Iranian hardliners threaten taxi app boycott in hijab row

Snapp uninstall message Image copyright Twitter

Iranian social media users are threatening to boycott their country's popular taxi app Snapp after the company apologised to a woman who had been ordered out of one of their driver's cars for failing to wear the compulsory Islamic headscarf, or hijab.

The passenger posted a picture on Twitter of the driver who ordered her out of his cab.

"This is the driver who dropped me off his car in the middle of a motorway [in the capital Tehran]," she wrote on 6 June.

Snapp later apologised and promised to reprimand the driver, according to the woman.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Since the 1979 revolution, it has been compulsory for women in Iran to wear the hijab

Conservatives responded angrily to Snapp's decision, criticising the company for submitting to people who disrespect "Islamic values".

A Persian-language hashtag which translates as "boycott Snapp" has been used more than 66,000 times since Saturday.

"If news that Snapp has apologised to the girl with derogatory behaviour and reprimanded Saeed Abed [the driver] is true," one user tweeted, "in addition to boycotting Snapp, the company manager who has actually encouraged indecency by his apology and reprimanded the driver, should be prosecuted based on... the Islamic Penal Code."

Following the Islamic revolution in 1979, the Iranian authorities imposed a mandatory dress code requiring all women to wear the hijab.

In an interview with Iranian state television channel IRTV3, Mr Abed said he could be fined if police identified female passengers not wearing hijabs in his car and that his actions were his "religious duty".

The woman had "defied" him by reporting him to Snapp, he told the broadcaster.

According to hardline website Jahannews, the Aerospace commander of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps, Brig-Gen Amir Ali Hajizadeh, met the Snapp driver and personally thanked him.

In a statement on Saturday, Snapp said it had apologised to the driver.

"We apologised to the driver whose particulars were published," the statement read.

"He will continue to work at Snapp satisfactorily.

"Moreover, customer-respect policy required us to empathise with the passenger because her journey was incomplete, as well as notifying her of Snapp's terms and conditions."

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On Monday, the woman deleted her earlier tweets and apologised.

"I hereby apologise to the Snapp driver, Snapp company and all those who were hurt because of the recent story," she tweeted.

"I declare I am bound to comply with my country's laws."

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Media captionIran's hijab protests: The Girls of Revolution Street

Peaceful protests against the hijab law on the streets and on social media have sparked a crackdown by the authorities.

Since January 2018, they have arrested at least 48 women's rights defenders, including four men, according to Amnesty International. The campaign group says some have been tortured and sentenced to prison terms or flogging after grossly unfair trials.

Women who participate in public demonstrations against the hijab could face up to 10 years in prison, the police have warned.

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