Iran's Double Standards Exposed as Russian Officer Spotted without Hijab

A female Russian military officer caused controversy in Iran by attending a public event while wearing a short-sleeved military uniform without a hijab, sparking further debate on the country’s mandatory hijab rules.

Tasnim News Agency, a media outlet connected to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), released photos of the Russian female officer on March 16th. In the pictures, the woman, who was not identified, was shown attending a press conference related to ongoing military exercises between the Iranian, Chinese, and Russian navies in the Gulf of Oman.

Recently, Iran, Russia, and China strengthened their economic and military ties amidst growing tensions over the ongoing Mahsa Amini protests, the continuing war on Ukraine, and long-standing disputes over the self-ruled island of Taiwan, respectively.

However, the Russian female military officer was seen wearing a dark-green military uniform with short sleeves. Although the woman wore long pants and a military hat, she was seen not wearing a hijab or any Islamic head covering.

The controversy comes after Iran recently implemented a stricter new law requiring female pharmacists to wear a black hijab while working. It also came two days after Bijan Nobaveh, a member of the Iranian parliament’s Cultural Commission, passed a seven-point proposal on better enforcing the mandatory hijab rules in the country.

Following the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini under police custody in September last year, the Islamic Republic never backtracked on its laws requiring Iranian women to wear a headscarf or hijab and loose-fitting trousers under their coats while in public.

Many Iranian netizens criticized the government for applying double standards regarding its strict dress codes since Western officials and journalists are expected to abide by the rules set by the Islamic Republic.

During the protests after Mahsa Amini’s death, international news outlet CNN said Iran’s president Ebrahim Raisi allegedly canceled an interview with veteran British-Iranian journalist Christiane Amanpour because she declined to wear a hijab.

"Do you have the courage to arrest this Russian officer who is not wearing a hijab? Isn't this country Islamic? Aren't there hijab laws in place? So why are you just standing idly by?" A Twitter user said, recalling the arrest of Mahsa Amini and thousands of other Iranian women following her death.

Iranian lawyer and political activist Muhammad Reza Safari criticized the Iranian government and told them in a Tweet that they should have shown their religious honor at the press conference with the Russian military instead of introducing new mandatory hijab laws.

This incident wouldn’t be the first time a Russian female official stirred controversy for not observing the Islamic Republic’s strict dress code while visiting Iran.

In June last year, Maria Zakharova, the spokeswoman for the Russian Foreign Ministry, accompanied Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov in Tehran. While Zakharova wore a headscarf and a manteau during an official meeting, her legs were not covered.

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