Iranian actress handed two-year jail for not wearing hijab, ordered treatment for 'mental disorder'
An Iranian court has given a prominent actress in the country a suspended two-year prison sentence for not wearing the compulsory hijab headscarf in public, said local media on Wednesday (July 19).
"Afsaneh Bayegan was sentenced to two years in prison, suspended over five years, for wearing a hat and failing to comply with the hijab law," Fars news agency reported.
Iranian law requires women to cover their head and neck in public.
In what can be termed a peculiar directive, the court has ordered Bayegan to visit a psychological centre every week "to treat the mental disorder of having an anti-family personality" and "to submit a health certificate after her treatment."
Fars news agency added that the verdict also bans the actress from using social media and leaving the Islamic Republic for two years.
The 61-year-old actress had appeared at a movie ceremony without wearing a headscarf and then shared photos on social media.
After the 1979 Islamic revolution, wearing a hijab has been compulsory for all women in Iran.
Bayegan had also expressed support for last year's protests triggered by the death in police custody of 22-year-old Iranian Kurd Mahsa Amini, who had been arrested in September for allegedly violating the strict dress code.
Bayegan rose to prominence after the 1979 revolution and is best known for her role in "Sarbedaran", a television series about Iran's resistance to Mongol invasion in the 14th century.
Police patrols increased
Since the Mahsa Amini protests, women in Iran have increasingly flouted the dress code. State media said on Sunday that there were increased police patrols on the street which were aimed at catching those ignoring the law.
The authorities in Iran are clamping down pn dissent as the anniversary of Mahsa Amini's death approaches apparently to prevent revival of protests that had rocked the counry last year.
Reuters has reported that Journalists, lawyers, activists, human rights advocates and students have been arrested summoned or faced other measures in a campaign that one activist described as "instilling fear and intimidation".
Senior officials are now defending theh new crackdown claiming that it is necessary to maintain stability.
Last year, when the protests were at their peak, Iranian authority responded by cracking down on protests.
A senior former Iranian official said the authorities should not ignore realities on the ground this time round.
"People are still angry over Amini's death and they are frustrated because of their daily struggle to bring food to their tables," the former official said who Reuters said asked not to be identified.
"These wrong decisions may have painful consequences for the establishment. People cannot take more pressure. If it continues, we will witness street protests again."