by Arash Karami, Al-Monitor
A number of Iranian officials have claimed that there is a conspiracy behind the serial acid attacks on women that shocked the city of Esfahan and horrified citizens, leading to mass protests and eventually the detention of several journalists.
These groups, usually affiliated with Ansar-e Hezbollah or the Basij Organization, have at times become entangled in physical confrontations after confronting a couple or a woman they feel is loosely abiding the country’s veiling laws. In order to avoid these confrontations, the parliament proposed legalizing their activities.
Former Intelligence Minister Heydar Moslehi made similar statements, saying, “Unfortunately, when the law for ‘enjoining good and forbidding wrong’ was taken to parliament, we witnessed an event such as acid attacks and with precision, it came out in the media of the enemy.”
He added, “Investigating the behind-the-scenes points of this situation show that it was a planned conspiracy by foreign agents in order to confront ‘enjoining good and forbidding wrong.’” The headline of the Fars News report on Moslehi’s statements read “British intelligence agents behind the latest acid attacks.”
The head of Basij Organization, Mohammad Reza Naghdi, said that the timing of the acid attacks was suspicious. He said after the attacks, “Immediately, foreign media took action and with similar headlines tried to associate the attacks with ‘enjoining good and forbidding wrong.’”
He asked why, if that were the case, did the attacker “leave the lewd street women with a lot of makeup alone and go after women with proper hijab?” He also asked, “Why did this attack happen at the same time parliament introduced [the bill on] ‘enjoining good and forbidding wrong?’”
Naghdi added that even if there is no proof that the person behind the attacks was not working with the “enemy,” “We can say with certainty that associating this evil and forbidden act with ‘enjoining good and forbidding wrong’ was a calculated act of agents of foreign media.”
The acid attacks themselves have been condemned by officials. Naghdi said that there is not a Muslim who does not know that this violence constitutes a “heinous crime.” Makarem Shirazi condemned them as well, saying, “There is not the smallest amount of humanity inside a mercenary and insane individual” who would commit acid attacks.
He added, “Acid attacks are forbidden and whoever did this must receive the maximum punishment.” According to Makarem Shirazi, “enjoining good and forbidding wrong” does not have a physical aspect. Rather, he said, the teaching has to be followed “politely and with the tongue” in such a way that it does “not give an excuse to anyone.” He added that no marja has ever given permission to commit violence in “enjoining good and forbidding wrong.”