x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Selling neckties is back on Iran police radar

Female booth attendants at an international trade fair and shops selling men's ties have become targets in an operation by Tehran police on clothing deemed un-Islamic, Iran media reports.

TEHRAN // Female booth attendants at an international trade fair and shops selling men's ties have become targets in an operation by Tehran police on clothing deemed un-Islamic, Iranian media reported yesterday.

Women "not properly observing the hijab" as they staffed stands at an international food exhibition, prompted police to shut down 80 of the booths, the Iranian deputy police chief, Ahmad Reza Radan, was quoted as saying in the Mardomsalari newspaper.

The police chief, Esmail Ahmadi Moqadam, said the female attendants had been warned, "but they did not take it seriously - that is why we shut them down."

It was not known if the women were fined or arrested, as often happens for such offences, nor was it known if any foreigners were among them.

The fair, which wrapped up yesterday, hosted exhibitions by companies from several countries, including Austria, China, France, Germany, India, Italy, South Korea, Spain and Turkey.

According to Mardomsalari and other media, police have also launched a fresh campaign to enforce an often-ignored ban on the sale of ties - apparel deemed by hardliners as a symbol of western cultural influence rejected since Iran's 1979 Islamic revolution.

"We had to remove all ties from our shop" on the orders of Tehran's morality police, a shopkeeper told the ISNA news agency.

Iranian hardliners frown on the necktie as a symbol of western decadence. Sported by the US-backed Shah and his cabinet ministers, the gentleman's accessory was famously derided as a "donkey's tail" by the Islamic republic's first president, Abolhassan Bani Sadr.

During the first few years after the 1979 Islamic revolution, ties were sometimes snipped off in the streets by zealous Revolutionary Guards. It did not matter that the apparel was invented in Eastern Europe and so was not specifically a Western fashion.

But the irrepressible tie has staged a comeback in the past decade, especially at weddings and funerals. Once sold only furtively under the counter, the tie had asserted its place in the window displays of some classy men's shops.

Ties are popular mostly with lawyers, doctors and businessmen, and are often seen at private dinner parties in upmarket north Tehran. The tie, however, marks a fashion red line for any government official who values his job.

Tehran police have in recent weeks focused on clothing standards in the street, screening foot and vehicle traffic at major junctions and shopping centres.

The move is part of an annual campaign before the sweltering heat of summer, when women try to relax some of their mandatory clothing by opting for thinner, shorter coats and headscarves.

Women are required to wear a scarf covering their hair, a long coat to below the knee and to eschew heavy make-up and nail polish.

Violators are often arrested and taken to police stations, where they are typically fined and made to sign statements promising to dress properly in the future, although flogging can occur in rare cases. Relatives are usually called to collect them with clothing considered more appropriate.

* With additional reporting by Michael Theodoulou