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Mon 12 May 2008 11:37 PM

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Iran to crack down on 'indecent' groups

Police to target 'Western-inspired movements' including rappers and Satanists in new morality campaign.

Iranian police will launch a crackdown this week on "indecent Western-inspired movements" such as rappers and satanists, state radio said on Monday.

The move signals a widening of a clampdown on "immoral" conduct launched last year against women flouting rules dictating that women cover their heads and disguise the shape of their bodies in public, in line with Iran's Islamic system.

State radio quoted commander Ahmad Rouzbehani of the police moral security unit as saying the new campaign would take effect nationwide on May 17 and that offenders would initially receive a "warning and information".

The crackdown against what clerics see as "corrupt" Western influence coincides with rising pressure on Iran by the West over its nuclear programme. The US and its allies say Iran wants to build an atomic bomb, which Tehran denies.

Late last month Iranian media said police would launch a crackdown in May on small companies which fail to enforce strict religious dress codes.

Iran's religious codes require women cover their hair and wear long, loose clothing to disguise their bodies in public, including offices where they may work with male colleagues.

The enforcement of "hijab" has been a cornerstone of the Islamic system introduced after the 1979 Islamic revolution.

In the past, crackdowns tended to be launched at the start of Iran's hot summers and petered out soon after. But last year's extended into winter and included a drive against tight women's trousers and even men with spiky "Western" hairstyles. (Reuters)