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Ahmadinejad Seeks Women’s Support in the ‘War of the Veil’

Ahmadinejad causes an uproar in Iran, angering religious clerics and appealing to women’s support in his attacks on the Muslim veil.
By Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu
First Publish: 8/24/2011, 9:19 AM

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has caused an uproar in Iran, angering the religious establishment and appealing to women’s support by attacking the Muslim veil as being degrading to women.

An Iranian newspaper that acts as a mouthpiece for Ahmadinejad recently published a special supplement attacking the Muslim dress code as he tries to replace his decreasing popularity with Muslim clerics by appealing to the middle class, especially women.

His turnaround faces obstacles, one being the not-too-short memory of women who have been constant targets of Ahmadinejad’s regulations relegating them to third-class status.

He previously has tried to remove the right of women to veto their husbands' right to marry up to four other women as well as take in concubines.  Ahmadinejad also introduced a new law three years ago to allow men to divorce their wives without letting them know.

Now the "new" Ahmadinejad, through his media adviser, has attacked the Islamic dress code but was challenged by old-line conservatives, who charged that the Kahtoun newspaper was "promoting permissiveness and religious laxity."

A government prosecutor wants to bring the newspaper to court for “offending morality." One item called the long black “chador” a primitive tradition that is beneath the dignity of women. Ahmadinejad’s media advisor argued that the long dress and veil actually are imports from 19th century Europe.

Harsh criticism by notable establishment officials reflects political turmoil in Iran. One member of the conservative camp charged that the calls for a removal of the dress code are “perverse,” and a senior cleric asserted that the publication of the articles undermines confidence for the veil.