Iran's supreme leader proposes national costume
July 10, 2004, 15:26
Iranians should design a national costume of which they can be proud but should not take their lead from the pages of Western fashion magazines, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran's supreme leader, was quoted as saying today. Conservatives have recently launched a crackdown on young women who flout Iran's strict Islamic dress codes by wearing figure-hugging coats and allowing hair to spill out from under their headscarves.
But Khamenei, who has the last word on all state matters, said there was no need for panic. "The young people in this country are pure believers and joyful and are very interested in Islam," he was quoted as telling young people in the western city of Hamadan. The Sharq daily said he returned to the idea of a national costume which he floated years ago.
"Arabs, Indians, Indonesians and Africans have their own costumes and they are proud of them," Khamenei said. "I say sit down and design a national costume. But I am not saying that it should be something dating back to 500 years ago," he added. "I am saying if you want to cut your hair short, if you want to change the way you put on make-up, if you want to change the way you walk - then do it."
"If fashion designers in Europe and America design a kind of clothes for men and women in their fashion magazines, should we copy them in Tehran, Mashhad and Hamadan? That would be bad," he said. "Cultural mimicry is a big danger, but don't get me wrong, I am not opposed to fashion, variety and innovation."
Khamenei, normally attired in black turban and long clerical robes, said there was nothing wrong with coats and trousers and that from time to time he would wear a western-style raincoat. A national costume would be of particular interest to hardline cleric Ahmad Khatami, who expressed his fears on sartorial freedoms to the Hambastegi newspaper.
"Some women appear in the streets half a millimetre from breaking the Islamic dress code. It is a very dangerous trend," he said. - Reuters