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Women arrested for violating Islamic dress code

TEHRAN, Iran, January 22, 2000 (AFP) - Iranian police arrested 10 young women for violating the country's strict Islamic dress code Saturday in a rare sweep through a well-to-do northern district of the capital. The young women, most of them sporting make-up or wearing veils that did not entirely conceal their hair, were made to board a police minibus, said an AFP journalist who witnessed the arrest on Ahmad Ghassir Street in north Tehran.

Several of the young women were crying in the rear of the bus as they spoke to a police officer.

Since President Mohammad Khatami took office in 1997, arrests of women for being improperly clad have become less common. The youth and female vote helped win Khatami his shock election victory over a conservative opponent.

Since the aftermath of the 1979 Islamic revolution, it has been prohibited for women and men who are not married to each other to be in close contact in public.

And women must wear either a black chador that covers them from head to toe or a rain coat and scarf that hides their hair. Dress code violations are punishable by whipping. But more frequently these days, transgressors are warned and then released after paying a fine and signing a written commitment to respect the dress code.