Sun, Nov 27, 2011
Iran: Next target of Islamic law enforcement campaign: internet cafés and photography shops
Originally published by the Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center in bulletin number 142.
Tehran’s police chief Hossein Sajedinia reported last weekend that the Tehran police recently launched an operation to shut down illegal photography shops and internet cafés which provide their clients with banned services. He noted that the police will take strong action against those who “mislead the youth” and violate the law or social norms.
According to Sajedinia, the police was prompted to launch the operation by complaints it received from many families about inappropriate services offered by photography shops and internet cafés to young people. He said that, among other things, photography shop owners expose private photos that cause numerous family problems, and internet cafés provide illegal services. As the operation began the Tehran police inspected 90 photography shops and 260 internet cafés, issued tickets, and even shut down some of them (ISNA, November 19).
A number of conservative news websites have complained recently that internet cafés operating in Tehran have become the preferred recreation sites for youngsters who do not comply with Islamic religious law and do not adhere to the Islamic dress code and moral values. Young men and women spend hours sitting side by side, talking to each other, smoking, and listening to music in an inappropriate environment (Farda News, September 16).
In recent years internal security forces have stepped up the campaign to enforce the Islamic code in various fields, which include confiscating satellite dishes, enforcing the Islamic dress code, confiscating unlicensed DVD films, closing down barber shops that offer Western-style haircuts, and taking action against designers of “inappropriate-style” clothing.
In June 2007 internal security forces chief Esma’il Ahmadi-Moghaddam announced that many internet cafés that cater mostly to young people operate without a license and violate the law. Iranian law has clear criteria as to who qualifies to operate an internet café, stating among other things that such a business may only be opened by a married person aged 30 or older.