Tehran police close Turkish Airlines office after its employees violated Iran’s headscarf law

Tehran police close Turkish Airlines office after its employees violated Iran’s headscarf law

Police have closed the Turkish Airlines office in the Iranian capital after female employees there apparently refused to wear the mandatory headscarf (hijab), thereby violating the country’s laws.

TEHRAN, Iran – Iranian police have closed the Turkish Airlines office in the capital Tehran, Iranian media reported Tuesday. Police apparently refused to wear the mandatory headscarf (hijab), violating the country’s law.

The semi-official Tasnim news agency reported that police officers went to the Turkish Airlines office in Tehran on Monday to issue a so-called first warning for “disregarding the hijab” by the airline’s female employees.

However, the employees – Iranian citizens – reportedly “caused trouble to the police”, which led to the closure. The Tasnim report says that the police then sealed the office because of the employees’ behavior.

According to Tasnim, the Turkish Airlines office will be allowed to reopen on Wednesday and resume operations as usual, but police did not confirm this. The report further states that police will not close any stores for not observing the hijab, but will issue warnings first.

Turkish Airlines initially had no comment on the incident in Tehran.

A blatant disregard for the headscarf law sparked mass protests across Iran after 22-year-old Mahsa Amini died following her arrest by the country’s morality police in September 2022. While those demonstrations appear to have largely died down, the decision of some Iranian women to remain uncovered in the streets poses a new challenge to the country’s theocracy.

In recent years, Iranian authorities have closed hundreds of businesses across the country, from shops and restaurants to pharmacies and offices, because they tacitly allowed their female employees to forgo wearing a hijab.

This reinforcement was further intensified in the months leading up to Iran’s presidential election in June to replace the late President Ebrahim Raisi, who died in a helicopter crash a month earlier.

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

Pezeshkian defeated hardliner Saeed Jalili in the election by promising to reach out to the West and relax enforcement of the country’s headscarf law after the Islamic Republic suffered years of sanctions and protests.

The state news agency IRNA quoted Tehran prosecutor Ali Salehi as saying that neither a court case nor a verdict had been initiated regarding the closure of Turkish Airlines’ office in Tehran.

Iran and Turkey enjoy good relations and in 2023, the bilateral trade volume between the two countries reached $5.4 billion. Turkey is also a popular tourist destination for Iranians; around 2.5 million people visited Turkey last year.

Turkish Airlines is a popular airline among Iranians because the travel time to the USA and Canada is shorter compared to other long-haul flights from the Arab countries of the Persian Gulf.