According to a member of the Iranian parliament, the administration intends to impose additional fines on women who do not wear hijab in public, with those who fail to comply after two warnings potentially having their bank accounts blocked.
Hossein Jalali, a member of the Cultural Commission of the Islamic Consultative Assembly, told Iranian media on December 6 that “unveiled individuals” will get a text message telling them to follow the rule and wear a hijab before going into a “warning phase” and possibly having their bank account closed.
Similar government tactics in the past have resulted in demonstrators and dissidents turning to cryptocurrency to continue accessing financial instruments. Jalali didn’t say much about the “warning stage,” but he did imply that there shouldn’t be any “morality police” making sure people follow the law. Other well-known people have said that cameras and artificial intelligence could be used to find people who break the law.
Protests have been ongoing in Iran since September 17, when an Iranian lady called Mahsa Amini was detained by morality police for not wearing a headscarf and died in strange circumstances in a Tehran hospital. As part of a larger campaign to get the government to stop making women wear hijabs, many women are either setting fire to their hijabs or refusing to wear them.
The threat to restrict demonstrators’ bank accounts recalls events earlier this year in Canada, when Prime Minister Justin Trudeau invoked the Emergencies Act on Feb. 15, allowing regulators to freeze the bank accounts of participants in the “Freedom Convoy” marches. After the fundraising portal GoFundMe banned the convoy protest campaign from its website, some demonstrators resorted to cryptocurrency to support the effort.
Iran, which has been using cryptocurrency in international trade since August 9, is launching its own Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC), the crypto rial. Iranian authorities’ threat to block bank accounts in order to ensure compliance illustrates the hazards of CBDCs and the shift to cashless economies. On December 6, Nigeria restricted ATM withdrawals of more than $45 per day in an effort to push the populace to use its controversial CBDC. Decentralized cryptocurrency transactions, on the other hand, are comparable to cash in that they cannot be blocked by government authorities.
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