Head Scarf Issue in Iran Divides Ahmadinejad, Clerics
SF chronical

Every summer, Iranian police get tough on women who violate the country's strict Islamic dress code by adjusting their veils and long coats to try to cope with the rising temperatures.

But this year, amid the annual crackdown, the issue of how women wear the veil - and what the government does about it - has become part of an intensifying rift between President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and powerful Shiite clerics.

The conservative clerics, and like-minded military commanders, complain that Ahmadinejad isn't doing enough to ensure that the dress code is strictly enforced. Some have also blamed recent violence against women on the victims themselves, arguing that they were at fault because they wore the veil improperly.

The debate is the latest in a series of public clashes between the country's secular leaders, who run day-to-day politics, and its religious officials. Ahmadinejad's critics charge that his inner circle of advisers is plotting to undermine their influence on the Islamic republic. They accuse the president and his men of advocating more personal freedoms to widen their popular base.

After Ahmadinejad's public fallout with Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in April over the forced resignation of one of the president's ministers, clerics, parliamentarians and Revolutionary Guard commanders who used to be among Ahmadinejad's strongest supporters are criticizing him on many fronts, including his plan to give Iranians free plots... >>>

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