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Girls beat up Iran cleric over dress code

By Ben Brumfield and Shirzad Bozorgmehr, CNN
updated 9:30 AM EDT, Thu September 20, 2012
Iranian women can be subjected to harsh punishment for small infractions of the country's Islamic dress code.
Iranian women can be subjected to harsh punishment for small infractions of the country's Islamic dress code.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Two girls beat up a cleric on his way to noon prayers, news agency says
  • He asked one of them to cover herself to comply with Islamic hijab
  • The girl told him to cover his eyes, he said
  • The cleric was hospitalized for three days

Tehran, Iran (CNN) -- They may be a far cry from their Western counterparts fighting for the acceptance to breast-feed -- or go topless -- in public, but two girls clobbered a cleric recently in a small town in Iran when he admonished one of them to cover herself more completely.

The cleric said he asked "politely," but the girl's angry reaction and some pugilistic double-teaming with her friend landed the holy man in the hospital, according to an account Monday in the semiofficial Mehr News Agency.

Hojatoleslam Ali Beheshti said he encountered the girls on his way to the mosque in the village of Shahmirzad for noon prayers in late August.

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He told one of the girls to cover up, the report said.

"She responded by telling me to cover my eyes, which was very insulting to me," Beheshti said. So he asked her a second time to cover up and also to put a lid on what he felt was verbal abuse.

She hit the man of the cloth, and he hit the ground.

"I don't remember what happened after that," he said. "I just felt her kicks and heard her insults."

Beheshti, who emerged from the infirmary three days later, said he did not file a complaint against the girls.

But he doesn't mind the local prosecutor's investigation into the matter either "as long as the case helps the cause of Islamic hijab."

The girls may have put the "jab" into "hijab," but fighting with morality police or private individuals telling women to cover up is rare in small towns. It's more common in larger cities, where women are more likely to take a stand.

Opinion: My hijab is my hoodie

CNN's Shirzad Bozorgmehr reported from Tehran, and CNN's Ben Brumfield reported from Atlanta.

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