TEHRAN (AFP) — Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Wednesday urged the police to keep up its crackdown on social vice that has also targeted un-Islamic dress.
"The police must strongly press on with the 'social security plan' and avoid seasonal and temporary initiatives so that its goals are implemented in society," state television quoted Khamenei as telling police commanders.
Police launched the crackdown in April in a drive to "elevate security in society" with arrests of "thugs", raids on underground parties, seizure of satellite dishes, and street checks of improperly dressed individuals.
Thousands of women have been warned for wearing tight, short coats and skimpy headscarves and for flouting the Islamic dress code, which requires every post-pubescent women to cover their hair and body contours.
Some moderates have questioned the need for the moral crackdown but conservatives have applauded police for a drive they say is popular with the public and necessary to improve security in society.
The Islamic republic's all-powerful leader urged police to "fulfill its duties regardless of some opposition and propaganda."
Iran has in recent months stepped up executions of criminals rounded up in the drive, in a clear warning to those deemed a menace to society.
Nineteen men were hanged in Tehran and Mashhad after being arrested in a sweep on "arazel va obash," a Persian phrase that translates loosely as thugs. It is used for rapists, drug-traffickers and criminals who disturb public security.
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