International

'Cover Your Eyes,' Iranian Woman Tells Chastising Cleric Before Beating Him Up

In Tehran, a woman adjusts her headscarf. i i

In Tehran, a woman adjusts her headscarf. Behrouz Mehri /AFP/Getty Images hide caption

itoggle caption Behrouz Mehri /AFP/Getty Images
In Tehran, a woman adjusts her headscarf.

In Tehran, a woman adjusts her headscarf.

Behrouz Mehri /AFP/Getty Images

Iran's Mehr news agency says a Muslim cleric in the northern province of Semnan claims he was recently knocked to the ground and kicked by a woman who apparently had had enough of his criticism about how she was dressed.

Bloomberg News writes that:

"Hojatoleslam Ali Beheshti said he encountered the woman in the street while on his way to the mosque in the town of Shahmirzad, and asked her to cover herself up, to which she replied 'you, cover your eyes,' according to Mehr. The cleric repeated his warning, which he said prompted her to insult and push him.

" 'I fell on my back on the floor,' Beheshti said in the report. 'I don't know what happened after that, all I could feel was the kicks of this woman who was insulting me and attacking me.' "

The cleric says he spent three days in a hospital afterward.

As Bloomberg adds, Iran's government "condemns short, tight and colorful coats and loosely tied head-scarves, and routinely organizes police patrols to enforce the Islamic dress code."

On Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty's Persian Letters blog, Golnaz Esfandiari writes about why a woman in Iran might do such a thing:

"I'm not a supporter of violence, but as a woman who grew up in Iran and was harassed many times for appearing in public in a way that was deemed un-Islamic, I understand the frustration that woman in Semnan must have felt and why she lashed out at the cleric."

She adds that:

"According to Mehr, the case is being reviewed by the judiciary. The region's prosecutor told the news agency that the case is being investigated but wouldn't give any details. The prosecutor has referred to the case as an incident of a'public beating.'

"Of course, when the same type of incident is reversed — a 'badly veiled' women beaten in public by police — it's simply a necessary enforcement of the dress code."

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