Islam

Iranian TV host under fire after she's caught not wearing headscarf, apparently drinking beer

A conservative Iranian state television host, who is known for being a proponent of a strict Islamic dress code, is under fire after a video emerged allegedly showing her drinking beer and not wearing a hijab while on vacation.

Azadeh Namdari was with her family in Switzerland when she was filmed enjoying what looked like an alcoholic beverage and not wearing a headscarf, the BBC reported.

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The consumption of alcoholic beverages is strictly prohibited under Islam and alcohol has been banned in Iran since the establishment of the Islamic Republic government in 1979. The Islamic dress code, which says that wearing a hijab is compulsory, is rigidly enforced by the morality police in Iran.

Namdari, who is also a presenter and actress, has actively endorsed compliance with wearing the hijab. In 2014, the conservative Iranian newspaper Vatan-e Emruz published a photo of Namdari in a full hijab with the headline: “Thank God, I wear the veil.”

In the interview, Namdari also advocated for the black chador, which is a large piece of cloth that completely covers a woman’s body, leaving only the face exposed.

In her interview with the newspaper, Namdari said she was proud to be a chadori – which is the way women who wear a chador refer to themselves.

“You have to believe to be a chador. [Otherwise] you’ll be exposed,” she said, according to the Independent. “Thank God that I went on air, I was a chadori. I felt safe and I felt respected. All of these are blessings that the chador has brought me.”

But after the new video hit the internet, Namdari was accused of “hypocrisy” and “dual-behavior.”

The video was shared online on July 24 and already been viewed more than 11,000 times, the BBC reported.

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According to the Independent, the backlash prompted a torrent of memes that included her being photoshopped with a bottle of Grey Goose vodka in her hand.

"The problem is not #Azadeh_Namdari or people like her. The problem is the ideology, culture and the system that forces individuals in society to have dual-behaviour for some reasons," read a tweet from an account attributed to the pro-government cleric Abolfazl Najafi-Tehrani.

In response to the criticism, Namdari released her own video in which she defended herself for not wearing a headscarf, saying she was in a park with family members and “maherem” – close relatives around whom a woman does not need to wear a hijab. She said she was wearing a headscarf, but it had suddenly fallen when the video was taken by an unknown person.

She gave no explanation as to why she appeared to be drinking beer.

However, for some people, Namdari's response only added fuel to the fire.

According to the BBC, the Facebook page Iran Without Clerics ripped Namdari for her seeming hypocrisy.

“We do not have any problem with you not wearing a hijab or drinking beer,” the post read. “Our problem is that you… take the Iranian people for a fool.”