Rafsanjani retreats on morals arrests

June 23, 1993|By New York Times News Service

TEHRAN, Iran -- Iran's morals police have launched a nationwide crackdown on "vice and social corruption" in the capital's streets, but after hundreds of arrests and with public indignation running high, President Hashemi Rafsanjani has declared that the operation has gone wrong, a newspaper reported yesterday.

More than 800 women were arrested for dress code violations, with many being detained for wearing sunglasses, witnesses said. Several clashes between the vice squads and the public were reported, and a European diplomat was said to have been beaten Sunday for refusing to allow the authorities to search his car.

"Unfortunately, in the call for social and moral propriety and attempts to dissuade the public from corruption, the authorities have not behaved well," Mr. Rafsanjani told an audience of clerics Monday, the newspaper Hamshahri reported.

The crackdown, which began Saturday, three days before the start of Muharram, a month of mourning for Shiite Muslims when the public is expected to dress in black, has been described as the most repressive since the mid-1980s, when women were doused with paint for showing their hair.

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