By: Mir M.Hosseini
On Jan, 8, 1936, Reza Shah announced a law regulating attire of Iranians which later became famous as ban on Hijab.
It's commonly believed that one of major mistakes of Reza Shah was to use force to lift the veil of Iranian women. Following a path he'd observed and liked in Turkey, he wanted to modernize the look of the Iranian people. First a law obligating men to wear suits and a chapeau passed the parliament in Dec, 27, 1928. Females from the royal and elite family began to appear in modern dresses in public. Iranian women were used to wearing a scarf or veil for centuries and this sudden change created outrage in families. Then in 1935, female students of Tehran University were asked to go to their classes without covering their hair. Under the dictator's regime, every voice of dissent was brutally silenced and soldiers raided a public gathering in the Goharshad mosque in Mashhad killing around 2500-5000 people and arresting 1500 participants.
Finally, on Jan, 8, 1936, during a graduation ceremony, Reza Shah announced the law according which wearing Hijab or Islamic veil became against the law, thus; the veil was officially outlawed. From that day, the police was ordered to use force to take the Chador off the head of women on the street. This act was indeed against basic human rights which backfired and people became strangers to their regime. Moreover, an aggressively masculine society was not going to change its attitudes towards women overnight. This in fact should not undermine the fact that during Reza Shah, improved status of women was a significant development in the history of Iran compared to other neighboring nations.
The same paradox appeared after the regime changed in 1979. Despite all promises given to leave people to decide on what they should wear, moral police patrol streets of Iran enforcing some sort of Islamic dress code which has drawn an ire, creating a wrong image of Islam in modern times.