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Iran Cleric Pummeled by ‘Badly Covered’ Woman After Warning

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Sept. 19 (Bloomberg) -- An Iranian cleric said he was beaten by a woman in the northern province of Semnan after giving her a warning for being “badly covered,” the state-run Mehr news agency reported.

Hojatoleslam Ali Beheshti said he encountered the woman in the street while on his way to the mosque in the town of Shahmirzad, and asked her to cover herself up, to which she replied “you, cover your eyes,” according to Mehr. The cleric repeated his warning, which he said prompted her to insult and push him.

“I fell on my back on the floor,” Beheshti said in the report. “I don’t know what happened after that, all I could feel was the kicks of this woman who was insulting me and attacking me.”

Since the 1979 revolution that brought Shiite Muslim religious leaders to power, women in Iran have been required to cover their hair and body curves in public with head-scarves and loose-fitting coats, to protect religious values and “preserve society’s morals and security.”

The government condemns short, tight and colorful coats and loosely tied head-scarves, and routinely organizes police patrols to enforce the Islamic dress code. Public surveillance increases in summer when some women opt for flimsier clothing.

Beheshti said he was hospitalized for three days. The Iranian cleric said it was his religious duty to apply the principle of “commanding right and forbidding wrong,” and that he would continue to do so even after living through what he called “the worst day of my life.”

It isn’t the first time that clerics in Iran have been beaten up after delivering warnings, Mehr said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Ladane Nasseri in Dubai at lnasseri@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Andrew J. Barden at barden@bloomberg.net.