Last updated: 20 May, 2012

Iran MP: Ahmadinejad should open nightclubs

A hardline Iranian MP on Saturday took a jibe at President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for failing to support an Islamic dress code for women, suggesting the president should now move to open “nightclubs” in the Islamic republic.

Fars news agency quoted MP Ali Motahari as saying that the president’s alleged lax views on the Islamic dress code had allowed women, directly and indirectly, to dress in a way promoting “sexual provocation.”

“The situation of the (Islamic) veil is tragic… thanks to the apparent and hidden encouragement by the president,” Fars quoted Motahari as saying.

Ahmadinejad and his chief of staff Esfandiar Rahim Mashaie have promoted a situation in which girls now “wear (in public) trousers, and coats that don’t cover the knees,” he said.

“They have actually allowed sexual provocation… and now, they should think of opening nightclubs and cabarets,” he added sarcastically in reference to Ahmadinejad and Mashaie.

Ahmadinejad, who has on occasion spoken against the use of police to enforce the Islamic dress code, is seen as too liberal by Iran’s hardline regime. And Mashaie is accused of having a negative influence on his boss.

Iran’s so-called morality police have launched a large crackdown in recent days on women deemed to ensure that they wear the mandatory headscarf and are not clad in “un-Islamic” attire.

The crackdown is part of an annual campaign before the sweltering heat of summer, when women try to shed some of their mandatory clothing.

The operations see police screening foot and vehicle traffic at major junctions and shopping centres, and lead to fines or arrests.

Several conservative MPs criticised Motahari’s “harmful” comments.

One of them, Mohammad Esmail Kossari, called on the judiciary to take up the case and hold the hardline lawmaker to account.

“The statements by Motahari are immoral,” charged Hamid Reza Fouladgar, an MP for Isfahan, while Fars news agency, which is close to the conservatives, accused him of playing games with the “counter-revolutionary media.”

Motahari, who won back his seat in Iran’s recent parliamentary elections, is renowned for his virulent attacks on the Iranian president.