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Iran shuts down office of Turkish Airlines in Tehran over hijab issue

TEHRAN: Iranian media reported that police shut down the Turkish Airlines office in Tehran after female employees allegedly refused to wear the obligatory headscarf, or hijab, in defiance of Iranian law.

The semi-official Tasnim news agency stated that police officers visited the Turkish Airlines office in Tehran on Monday to issue a first warning over non-observance of the hijab by the company’s employees.

Reportedly, the Iranian-origin employees caused trouble for the police officers, leading to the office’s closure. The Tasnim report mentioned that the police then sealed the office due to the employees’ conduct, according to the TRT.world.com.

According to Tasnim, the Turkish Airlines office is expected to reopen on Wednesday and resume business as usual, though this has not been confirmed by the police. The report added that the police would issue first warnings rather than sealing businesses for non-observance of the hijab.

There was no immediate comment from Turkish Airlines regarding the incident.

After the September 2022 death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini following her arrest by Iran’s morality police, widespread protests erupted across Iran, openly defying the headscarf law. Although the protests have largely subsided, some Iranian women continue to challenge the law, posing a new challenge to the country’s theocracy.

In recent years, Iranian authorities have closed numerous establishments, including shops, restaurants, pharmacies, and offices, for allowing female employees to discreetly forego the hijab.

This enforcement intensified in the months leading up to Iran’s presidential election in June, following the death of President Ebrahim Raisi in a helicopter crash a month prior.

The incident at the Turkish Airlines office in Tehran occurred on the same day that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called Iran’s President-elect Masoud Pezeshkian to congratulate him on his victory in the presidential runoff last week.

Pezeshkian defeated Saeed Jalili, promising to reach out to the West and ease the country’s mandatory headscarf law after years of sanctions and protests.

Tehran prosecutor Ali Salehi stated, according to the state-run IRNA news agency, that no legal proceedings or ruling had been issued regarding the sealing of the Turkish Airlines office.

Iran and Turkey have maintained favorable relations, with bilateral trade reaching $5.4 billion in 2023. Turkey is also a popular tourist destination for Iranians, with around 2.5 million visiting last year. Turkish Airlines is favored by Iranians due to shorter travel times to the United States and Canada.

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I am an experienced writer, analyst, and author. My exposure in English journalism spans more than 28 years. In the past, I have been working with daily The Muslim (Lahore Bureau), daily Business Recorder (Lahore/Islamabad Bureaus), Daily Times, Islamabad, daily The Nation (Lahore and Karachi). With daily The Nation, I have served as Resident Editor, Karachi. Since 2009, I have been working as a Freelance Writer/Editor for American organizations.

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