No Hijab, No Healthcare: Iran's Shocking New Measure

Health authorities in northern Iran released a new edict, ordering that women who don’t wear their hijab correctly or have no headscarf should be denied healthcare. This sparked strong reactions among Iranian netizens and prominent Iranian figures and activists.

Officials in the northern city of Lahijan ordered healthcare providers to “provision of all services” to comply with the regime’s strict Islamic dress code. The directive was signed by the city’s director of health and treatment networks, Mohammad Taqi Najafzadeh, and was sent to heads of healthcare facilities across the city.

The directive stated that all medical workers and health centers must follow the mandatory hijab laws that the Islamic Republic is enforcing. But the letter did not provide specific guidelines on how to observe medical service protocols in emergencies, where immediate treatment is necessary, regardless of the patient’s observance of the hijab.

The draconian decree came amidst persisting efforts by the Iranian regime to enforce its derided mandatory hijab law, which saw ordinary Iranian women and even popular actresses being arrested and convicted for flouting the law.

Human rights groups, activists, journalists, and other figures in Iran condemned the “horrifying” directive, with Iranian human rights lawyer Kambiz Noroozi describing it as “by far the most blatant contravention of Iranian women’s legitimate civil and human rights and against all civilized norms.

Sending such a letter to our health authorities is unique in the medical world, and it means that if a woman is at risk of serious injury, or even death, and needs treatment that health professionals should not serve her just because she did not wear a hijab,” Noroozi said. “This is tantamount to committing a criminal act.

Iranian political activist Abbas Abdi, who works closely with the country’s reformist movement, wrote a Tweet demanding accountability from both the Iranian government and the Ministry of Health for endorsing this measure.

"That doctor, being a government administrator, and the ministry, endorsing such an anti-human violation, amid the government's silence, should be held accountable." Abdi wrote on Twitter.

Journalist Saeed Maliki even compared the directive to that of ISIS, drawing parallels between the regime enforcing the hijab law despite strong pushback among Iranians and the tactics used by the extremist and terrorist organization to force people under its rule to follow its strict interpretation of Islam and Sharia law.

Iranian netizens were also critical of the directive, calling it a breach of the “medical oath” and emphasizing the importance of providing healthcare to everyone without discrimination or coercion. One social media user also likened it to the "darkest days of church supremacy” during the Middle Ages in Europe, where the Catholic Church imposed religious decrees on societal and political matters.

The Islamic Republic has been continuously cracking down against anyone engaging in activities against the regime as the anniversary of the death of Mahsa Amini draws near. She was killed under the custody of the morality police, which was recently reinstated after ten months of inactivity last September 2022, after being arrested for allegedly wearing her hijab improperly.

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