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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 October 2018

Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei says hijab is the solution to end sexual violence

Mr Khamenei uses the #Metoo campaign as a reason for women to wear hijab

Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei says that 'by introducing hijab, Islam has shut the door on sexual abuse or violence'. AP
Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei says that 'by introducing hijab, Islam has shut the door on sexual abuse or violence'. AP

Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei says that he has found the answer to end sexual violence against women – the hijab.

In a speech published on the leader's official Twitter account, Mr Khamenei said that Islam could have prevented the string of sexual abuse cases in the US and other western countries that have inspired the global #Metoo campaign.

The leader used the #MeToo movement to voice what he described as the virtues of hijab against the "immodest" attire of women in Western societies.

The use of hijab for women became compulsory after the revolution in 1979 and the establishment of the Islamic Republic of Iran.

"By introducing hijab, Islam has shut the door on a path that would pull women towards such deviation," he said. "Islam does not allow this [sexual abuse or violence].

"You might have heard, a few months ago, that a large number of western, female, politicians announced one right after another they had been subjected to abuse, harassment or violence at times when they were working in government offices," he said against a backdrop of images including the Larry Nassar trial and the Hollywood film producer Harvey Weinstein.

The tweet sparked a flurry of criticism, as people took to Twitter to voice their anger against the Iranian leader's comments.

"Hijab is not Islam's proposal. That is a forced burden you put on women. To say the victims were abused because their head was not covered is shamefully disrespectful, just like your role as the self proclaimed 'leader' of Iran. Do not pass the blame to the victims!" said one Twitter user.

Others mocked Mr Khamenei for his proposed solution to a problem that has no geographical, social or religious boundaries. "This is definitely the funniest Tweet today," said one man.

It did not end sexual violence. The latest publicised case was that of Zeinab Sekaanvand, a female victim of domestic and sexual violence who was convicted of killing her husband when she was a minor, according to Amnesty International. The 24-year-old was hanged in Urumieh central prison in West Azerbaijan province.

The video also comes after protests against the compulsory hijab by dozens of women.

“[Khamenei] is trying to take the moral high ground. But within Iran, the government and hardliners’ views towards women has very much not been in the defense of women,” Hadi Ghaemi, executive director of the Centre for Human Rights in Iran, told the Los Angeles Times. “He’s been calling for policies that roll back the rights women have gained on their own. He is being opportunistic.”