Iranian actress Afsaneh Bayegan handed suspended prison sentence for not wearing hijab

She was also ordered to attend weekly therapy sessions to treat 'anti-family personality'

Mannequin heads dressed with head scarves at a shop in a commercial district in downtown Tehran. AP
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A popular Iranian actress has been handed a two-year suspended prison sentence, a travel ban and has been ordered to attend weekly therapy sessions for failing to wear the hijab in public.

Afsaneh Bayegan was sentenced to two years in prison, suspended for five years, for wearing a hat in public and violating Iran's hijab law, media affiliated to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps reported on Wednesday.

The actress must also attend weekly therapy sessions to treat an "anti-family personality," a Tehran court ruled, and is banned from using social media or leaving the country for two years.

Ms Bayegan is one of several prominent entertainment figures who has joined millions of other Iranian women in flouting rules imposed on them by Iranian authorities, who have made it illegal for females to sing or ride a bike in public, dress as they please and leave the country without their husbands' consent, among other restrictions.

She was arrested after attending a movie premiere without a hijab and posting photos on social media, and has also expressed support for protesters who were gunned down in their hundreds last year.

The ruling comes as Tehran steps up surveillance of women ahead of the anniversary of Mahsa Amini's death in morality police custody last September, which prompted nationwide anti-regime protests that have continued in some parts of the country.

Although morality police and plain-clothed officers have been active in recent months, authorities have stepped up patrols to catch women without hijab or the long clothing required under Iranian law since the Islamic Revolution.

Women have recently told The National of pregnant relatives being hit in the stomach and held in prison by morality police officers.

Meanwhile, the trial of an Iranian activist jailed has been postponed after she reportedly refused to wear a hijab to her court hearing.

Sepideh Qolani was re-arrested in March, just hours after her release from the notorious Evin prison, for chanting against Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

She was due to appear at a court session on Wednesday, in which she had decided to represent herself, local media reported.

The session was postponed as Ms Qolani refused to wear a hijab, the semi-official Iranian Students News Agency (ISNA) reported.

Updated: July 19, 2023, 4:23 PM