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    Four newly elected women MPs challenge chador as required garb

    TEHRAN, March 9 (AFP) - Four Iranian women newly elected to parliament are questioning the need to wear the chador, the black head-to-toe wrap which has been standard garb for female MPs since the 1979 revolution, a Tehran daily reported Thursday. (Related satire here) (Related headline here)

    The four women, who won election on the reform ticket in last month's polls, say a scarf concealing their hair and a long coat is sufficent to meet the requirements of Iran's Islamic dress code, the Ham-Miham newspaper said.

    "We are the revolution's first generation, and we carried out this generation wearing a coat," said Tahereh Rezazadeh, who represents the southern city of Shiraz.

    "A lot of people who surrounded (revolutionary leader Ayatollah Ruhollah) Khomeini and who greeted him did it clad in a coat. The Islamic dress code is not limited to the chador in Islamic law or in our traditions," she said.

    Soheila Jelodarzadeh, an MP from Tehran, said: "I think female members of parliament have the right to choose their manner of dressing as long as they respect Islamic law and the constitution."

    Male members of parliament have recently appealed for their female colleagues to wear the chador.

    But Jelodarzadeh said: "It's not for members of parliament to choose for other MPs."

    Her colleague, Fatemeh Aqiqatju of Tehran, said that "if one looks at the Islamic dress code as set out in Islamic law, the wearing of a headscarf is what's important and the way of doing it can change with the times and the place."

    The fourth woman MP, Fatemeh Rakei, also from Tehran, said "the Islamic dress code goes much deeper than the simple wearing of the chador. The chador is not a religious obligation. "Does wearing the chador make women faithful to Islam?" she asked.

    On Tuesday, two outgoing members of parliament who are close to the reformists, called for their female colleagues to keep wearing the chador.

    The new parliament will include 10 women compared to 13 women in the outgoing parliament.

    So far, women continue to wear the chador in the legislative body even though it is not considered obligatory outside.


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