Woman wearing hijab, Iran. Creative Commons.

Iran Launches New Crackdown, Targeting E-commerce Giant for Photos of Female Employees Without Headscarves

A week after authorities in Iran threatened to renew a crackdown on women not wearing the hijab, the country’s morality police has shut down an office of the country’s largest e-commerce company and initiated judicial proceedings against it.

The action came after the company, Digikala, colloquially referred to as “Iran’s Amazon,” published pictures online showing women employees at a corporate gathering not wearing the mandatory Islamic headscarf.  

Citing a news report on Hamshahri, an Iranian daily affiliated with Tehran’s municipal authorities, the Associated Press reported July 24 that one of Digikala’s offices was sealed late on July 23. The company’s website, however, was reported to be functioning normally.

AP reports the website of Iran’s judiciary announced that court cases had been filed regarding the online photos, but no further details were provided.

In October 2022, Iranian authorities brutally crushed months of street protests that erupted after the death of  Mahsa Amini on September 16, 2022. Amini, 22-year-old woman, had been detained by the morality police for violating Iran’s hijab dress code. The crackdown resulted in the deaths of more than 500 protesters and the detention of nearly 20,000.

The morality police had significantly reduced their enforcement and street presence following Amini’s death, especially in Tehran, in the face of a series of massive protests demanding the downfall of the theocratic regime that has governed Iran for more than 40 years. 

Throughout the crisis, however, Iranian officials consistently maintained that the rules remained unchanged. On July 16, the morality police resumed their presence on the streets, coinciding with their announcement of a fresh campaign to compel women to wear the hijab.

Iran’s ruling clerics regard Western-style attire, including failing to wear the hijab, as a symbol of decadence.