TEHRAN - Iranian security forces have stepped up what appears to be a major crackdown on insufficiently veiled women by launching raids, witnesses said Monday.
According to one witness, scores of policemen - and policewomen in chadors - raided the Milad commercial centre in the west of Tehran on Sunday, and detained dozens of young women deemed not to be respecting the Islamic dress code.
They also confiscated coats they considered to be too transparent or figure-hugging.
Another resident reported a similar raid in the Sorkheh Bazar shopping centre in the central district of Vanak, with dozens more young girls also arrested.
One man said he had to go to release his cousin from police custody, but added that the woman was only freed on condition that she return for a course in Islamic morals.
In recent weeks a string of similar raids have been reported, mainly in the more upmarket north of the capital. Scores of young girls have been seen being taken away from commercial centres in minibuses operated by the police.
Police and Islamic militiamen have also reportedly stepped up their raids on private parties where they suspect the presence of alcohol or mixed-sex dancing.
But it remains unclear if the current clampdown is the usual pre-summer anti-vice operation, or a sign of stricter rules following the shift to he right of the regime following February's parliament election of conservatives.
Since the 1979 Islamic revolution, all post-pubescent females are required to wear the veil and a long coat that conceals their bodily form. Violators risk fines or imprisonment.
However in large cities in recent years, many women have progressively flouted the rules by wearing flimsy headscarfs and brightly-coloured, short and skimpy coats.