Kimisis tis Theotokou Hamptons Greek Festival (Vid & Pics)

HAMPTONS, NY – The Kimisis tis Theotokou (Dormition of the Virgin Mary) Greek Festival once again brought a taste of Greece to the Hamptons. The four-day festival took place July 11-14 under perfect summer weather conditions which brought in attendees form near and far to enjoy the traditional food, music, and dancing.

The church grounds were bustling with people lining up for the classic Greek food and sweets, shopping from the vendors, music and various activities, the parish again succeeded in giving “Greek color” to the everyday life of the area. Greek and non-Greek vacationers had a delightful time.

The parish dance groups from the youngest children to the older ages performed the well-known Greek dances highlighting the cultural tradition of Greece.

“Thursday and Friday were really the most successful. Many Greeks and non-Greeks attended, including celebrities as many of our friends who are not Greek always make time to visit us. Trying our food and watching the Festival, they exclaim ‘how nice are the Greeks!’ For us, this is the most significant,” said the presiding priest of the community, Fr. Alexander Karloutos, in an interview with The National Herald.

According to Fr. Karloutsos, the president of the American Holocaust Museum, Howard M. Lorber, from the Greek-Jewish community of Thessaloniki, said that the Hampton Festival awakens “beautiful memories.”

“Howard Lorber is, among other things, a close friend of President Donald Trump. When he tasted our food, he turned to me and said that it reminded him of the genuine Greek food made by his grandmother from Thessaloniki. He tried moussaka, but also lamb on the spit and I liked both very much,” said Fr. Karloutsos.

At the Dormition of the Virgin Mary Hamptons Festival, left to right: Andrew Fotopoulos, Eleni Fotopoulos, Fr. Alexander Karloutsos, Presvytera Anastasia Lazarakis, Olga Palladino, Lisa Kessaris, Zoe Strassfield, Melina Hale, and George Chudley. Photo: TNH/ Kostas Bej

Among those who attended this year’s Dormition of the Virgin Mary Hamptons Festival, were many well-known personalities of the Greek community such as John Catsimatidis and Mike Angeliadis.

“We are pioneers in the American community”

The Dormition of the Virgin Mary in the Hamptons organizes events throughout the year, but during the summer it has its two most important: The Festival, organized in July, and the Blue Dream Gala, which takes place in August every year. This year’s Blue Dream Gala is scheduled for August 24.

This is a fundraiser that does not address the “narrow circle” of the Greek community but is open to the wider American society, offering substantial financial assistance for important social causes.

This year, the money will be earmarked for the needs of erecting newer, more modern, facilities at Southampton Hospital, which serves the area. As noted in TNH, Fr. Karloutsos is a member of the donation committee, along with others including former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and American investor John Paulson.

The young dancers of the Dormition of the Virgin Mary community with Fr. Alexander Karloutsos and Fr. Constantine Lazarakis at the Festival. Photo: TNH/ Kostas Bej

“I like to see that our Church serves the American community around us. We are Greeks and we must be leaders, not just followers. Everyone now recognizes the central role of the Greek community in the Hamptons. It is an opportunity to promote our Greek heritage and remind us that as Greeks we are philanthropists and benefactors and we can serve the American community,” said Fr. Karloutsos.

Finally, Fr. Karloutsos praised the members of the Dormition community for their efforts and their significant financial contribution, both for the Festival and for the rest of the parish’s activities and contributions to society.

“We have a Greek school, programs for the elderly, but also efforts such as Love Michael, where autistic people are involved, and have the opportunity to learn cooking. From this activity, they are rewarded financially and feel they have a quality of life,” concluded Fr. Karloutsos.

At the Hamptons Greek Festival, left to right: Alexandra Sofia, Nickolas Theros, Nektarios Antoniou, Maria Vlahadamis, and Bassam Tarabay. Photo: TNH/ Kostas Bej

Alexander Navab, Businessman and Philanthropist, Passed Away, 53

NEW YORK – Businessman and philanthropist Alexander Navab passed away suddenly at the age of 53.

A private equity professional, Navab was a Wall Street dealmaker, as the New York Times reported, and an active philanthropist supporting many causes, including his alma mater Columbia University as well as The Hellenic Initiative. He joined KKR in 1993 and was the Head of KKR’s Americas Private Equity business. Navab served as the Chair of the Americas Private Equity Investment Committee, and also as the Chair of the Americas Portfolio Management Committee, as well as serving on KKR’s Special Situations Investment Committee. Prior to joining KKR, Navab was with James D. Wolfensohn Incorporated where he was involved in mergers and acquisitions as well as corporate finance advisory work. From 1987 to 1989, he was with Goldman, Sachs & Co. where he worked in the Investment Banking Department. He received a BA with honors, Phi Beta Kappa, from Columbia College, and an MBA with High Distinction, Baker Scholar, Wolfe Award, from Harvard Business School. In 2011, Navab received the John Jay Award for distinguished professional achievement from Columbia College. In 2016, he was awarded the Ellis Island Medal of Honor.

HABA Board of Directors member Demetri Papacostas, HABA President Fanny Trataros, and Michael Psaros presenting the award to honoree Alexander Navab. Photo by Kostas Bej

Navab was actively involved in philanthropic, educational, community, and national organizations, serving as a member of the Board of Trustees at New York-Presbyterian Hospital; a member of the Board of Directors at The Robin Hood Foundation; a member of the Board of Visitors at Columbia College; Co-Chair of the National Council of American Enterprise Institute (AEI); a member of the Board of Trustees at The Buckley School in New York; a member of the Council on Foreign Relations; a member of the Board of Dean’s Advisors at Harvard Business School; Co-Chair of the National Advisory Board at Youth I.N.C. (Improving Non-Profits for Children); and on the Executive Committee at The Hellenic Initiative- a non-profit organization supporting economic renewal in Greece through philanthropy, entrepreneurship, and economic investment.

Navab was honored in 2017 as the Executive of the Year by the Hellenic American Association for Professionals in Finance (HABA) at their 35th annual dinner. At the event, Navab spoke about his unique background as a Hellenic-Iranian-American whose parents met in New York, moved to Iran, where the family lived for 14 years, then left due to the Islamic Revolution, moving to Greece for two years before moving to the United States. Navab’s Greek mother, Tina was present at the event, along with his wife Mary Kathryn and daughter Arabella. His father, he mentioned, could not attend because he was in the hospital, but was doing fine and the family was going to visit him after the dinner.

After recounting the dramatic events of his young life, Navab said that for someone who witnessed such dislocation, immigration is one of the greatest things about the United States. He said, “You can come with a dream and still fulfill that dream,” noting how his family arrived with nothing and though his father was a doctor, the family had to start all over again. His parents instilled values in him and his three siblings, to work hard and take advantage of the opportunities this country offers. The importance of education was also central to their upbringing. Navab gave his advice for success in life. Rely on faith, value family, cultivate long-term friendships, embrace change, and give back to those in need, he said.

Navab was a Columbia University Trustee, alumnus, benefactor, and advisor. In addition to supporting athletics, Alex and his wife Mary Kathryn had recently established the Navab Fellowship Program, which provides annual funding for Columbia College students to pursue full-time summer internships. Navab left his mark on the worlds of finance and philanthropy, and will be missed. The New York Times quoted a statement by the President and Trustees of Columbia University, “We offer our condolences to Alex’s wife, Mary Kathryn Navab, his children, his extended family, and all who feel his loss. His generosity, leadership, and devotion to his alma mater, and to making the world a better place, are an inspiration to us all.”

May his memory be eternal.

Letter to the Editor: Congratulations to Mr. Diamataris

To the Editor:

Congratulations to Mr. Antonis H. Diamataris on his new appointment! my family and I wish him all the best. As a long-time reader, I appreciate his many years of dedication to the Greek community, wherever they may live. I have heard some squabbling over the term “expatriate” or “Greeks living abroad” but whatever you call it, Hellenism everywhere needs unity above all. Whether you are first, second, third or fourth generation, if the language, culture, and heritage mean something to you, you are Greek. The wealth of knowledge and experience Mr. Diamataris brings to his new job will undoubtedly be a great advantage. I again congratulate him and his family. Axios!

Haroula Chrisomallis

Minneapolis, MN

Turkey Will Keep Drilling Until Cyprus Agrees to Shared Licensing

Turkey said drilling for energy in Cyprus’ Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) will go on until the legitimate government gives in and consents to letting Turkish-Cypriots take part in the hunt for oil and gas.

Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said unless Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades accepts the proposal from Turkish-Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci to let his side participate in the licensing of foreign companies that the drilling won’t stop.

Turkey has ignored demands from the United States to stop the drilling, as well as from the European Union which has put out press releases of various stages of concern but has backed off even mild sanctions.

Bloc leaders are wary that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, if provoked too much, could unleash more refugees and migrants on Greek islands as a three-year-old swap deal has largely been suspended.

Cavusoglu said Akinci’s idea that both sides of the divided island cooperate in exploration and exploitation of gas could contribute to stability and peace in the eastern Mediterranean as tension has been ratcheting up, along with fears of a military conflict.

Anastasiades had already agreed to let Turkish-Cypriots who’ve occupied the northern third of the island since an unlawful 1974 invasion share in any potentially lucrative revenues but Erdogan and Akinci want them to have a hand in the licensing as well.

Turkey has two drill ships in Cyprus’ EEZ, part of which it doesn’t recognize, and claims to have rights to the waters under international laws it otherwise doesn’t respect but has cited in this case.

Cyprus issued international arrest warrants for the crew of the first Turkish ship to begin drilling but didn’t enforce them and the United Nations has stayed out of the fray, ignoring Anastasiades’ pleas to get involved.

WE OWN THE SEAS

The EU is discussing curbing contacts and funds for Turkey in response but has sat on its hands for now and done nothing but talk as Erdogan has strengthened his hand in an apparent push to make the bloc and Cyprus bend to his will.

In an article for the Cyprus Post Cavusoglu said until Greek-Cypriots adopt the proposals set out by Akinci that Turkey would continue operations in areas where Turkish-Cypriot authorities have licensed it to work, “with determination and without change.”

Turkey, which has no diplomatic relations with Cyprus – a member of the EU that Turkey wants to join while barring Cypriot ships and planes –  is the only country which recognizes the breakaway state in the north of the island.

Cyprus said Turkey’s drilling operations are contrary to international law and that decisions on hydrocarbons are its sovereign right, the news agency Reuters noted in a report on the growing dilemma remaining unsolved.

Turkey said Greek-Cypriot authorities cannot make agreements about maritime economic zones or energy exploration on behalf of the whole island while claiming that the seas around Cyprus lie on its own continental shelf.

Erdogan said the EU hadn’t helped solve the Cypriot question that has been confounding diplomats for decades, with the last round of reunification talks collapsing in July, 2017 at the Swiss resort of Crans-Montana when Erdogan and Akinci said a Turkish army in the occupied area would never leave and demanded the right of further military intervention.

“In the face of all of these developments, we can’t view positively those who speak, make a noise here,” broadcaster Haberturk quoted him as saying.

“Now the EU comes forward and says what? It will impose sanctions. Do whatever your sanction is. Sorry, you have not defended the rights of Turks in northern Cyprus,” he said. “You have not followed through on your promises.”

NYC Bus Terminal’s Air Conditioning Not Working after Outage

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — Commuters should expect a warm arrival at the Port Authority Bus Terminal in New York City.

The Port Authority says the terminal’s air conditioning system is not fully online Monday following Saturday’s power outage that left parts of Manhattan in the dark for several hours. The agency says the temperature in the terminal will be “much warmer than normal.”

The Port Authority says it’s working to fix the problem.

Saturday’s blackout affected thousands for about five hours along a 40-block stretch that included Times Square to 72nd Street and Broadway, and spreading to Rockefeller Center.

As Epstein Bail Fight Looms, Feds Say Evidence Growing Daily

NEW YORK (AP) — Federal prosecutors, preparing for a bail fight Monday, say evidence against financier Jeffrey Epstein is growing “stronger by the day” after several more women contacted them in recent days to say he abused them when they were underage..

Prosecutors say Epstein, 66, is a flight risk and danger to the community and should remain incarcerated until he is tried on charges that he recruited and abused dozens of underage girls in New York and Florida in the early 2000s.

His lawyers counter that their client has not committed crimes since pleading guilty to soliciting a minor for prostitution charges in Florida in 2008 and that the federal government is reneging on a 12-year-old deal not to prosecute him. They say he should be allowed to await trial under house arrest in his $77 million Manhattan mansion, with electronic monitoring.

In a written submission Friday to U.S. District Judge Richard M. Berman, prosecutors revealed new information about their investigation and why they perceive Epstein as dangerous.

They said several additional women in multiple jurisdictions had identified themselves to the government, claiming Epstein abused them when they were minors. Also, dozens of individuals have called the government to report information about Epstein and the charges he faces, prosecutors said.

Prosecutors said they believe Epstein might have tried to influence witnesses after discovering that he had paid a total of $350,000 to two individuals, including a former employee, in the last year. That came after the Miami Herald reported the circumstances of his state court conviction in 2008, which led to a 13-month jail term and his deal to avoid federal prosecution .

“This course of action, and in particular its timing, suggests the defendant was attempting to further influence co-conspirators who might provide information against him in light of the recently re-emerging allegations,” prosecutors said.

The decade-old secret plea deal led to Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta’s resignation last week. Acosta came under renewed criticism following Epstein’s arrest over the 2008 non-prosecution agreement he oversaw as the U.S. attorney in Miami.

In addition to the charges in the indictment, prosecutors are also reviewing dozens of electronic files seized during a raid on Epstein’s residence after his July 6 arrest, finding even more photos than the hundreds or thousands of pictures of nude and seminude young women and girls they had reported prior to a court hearing a week ago.

In their submission to the judge, Epstein’s lawyers say their client has had a clean record since he began registering as a sex offender after his Florida conviction.

They said the accusations against Epstein are “outside the margins of federal criminal law” and don’t constitute sex trafficking since there were no allegations he “trafficked anybody for commercial profit; that he forced, coerced, defrauded, or enslaved anybody.”

Prosecutors said efforts by defense lawyers to characterize Epstein’s crimes as “simple prostitution” were “not only offensive but also utterly irrelevant given that federal law does not recognize the concept of a child prostitute — there are only trafficking victims — because a child cannot legally consent to being exploited.”


By LARRY NEUMEISTER Associated Press

Pancretans Honor Andy Manatos with Venizelon Award

WASHINGTON, DC – Andy Manatos was honored with the Venizelon Award at the national convention of the Pancretan Association of America on July 2 in Springfield, Massachusetts.

The Venizelon Award “is given to an individual who has demonstrated exemplary values, outstanding achievements and valuable contributions in the fields of government, politics, diplomacy or civil service and who through his/her words and deeds, is considered a friend of Greece and its people.”

Previous recipients of this award have included: former Prime Minister of Greece Constantine Mitsotakis, former President of Greece Karolos Papoulias, former Greek Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyiannis, and former Governor of Massachusetts and nominee for President of the United States Michael Dukakis.

Previous awards Manatos has received include:

Lifetime Achievement Award at the Greek America Foundation’s Gabby Awards at Carnegie Hall in New York City (2017),

Andy Manatos speaks at the Pancretan Convention. Photo Manatos & Manatos

Lifetime Achievement Award by the Alpha Omega Council in Boston, MA (2016),

Outstanding Public Advocacy Award from the American Hellenic Educational and Progressive Association (AHEPA) (2013),

Service Award from The Smile of the Child Foundation in Athens, Greece (2013),

Medal of Saint Paul, the highest recognition of the Greek Orthodox Church of America (2008),

Ellis Island Medal of Honor from the National Ethnic Coalition of Organizations (1999), and the Battle of Crete Award from the Pancretan Association of America (1991).

Pancretan Association of America President Eleftherios Dramitinos, present to Andy Manatos the Venizelon Award.
Photo Manatos & Manatos

Erdogan Waiting for Mitsotakis’ Move Over Turkish Sea Drilling

He was the first to congratulate new Prime Minister and New Democracy leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis after the Conservatives chief won the July 7 snap elections and now Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said he’s waiting to see what Greece will do about Turkey drilling for oil and gas off Cyprus.

Greece and Turkey, along with the former Colonial ruler the United Kingdom, which still has military bases there, are guarantors of security for the divided island where Turkish-Cypriots have occupied the northern third since a 1974 Turkish invasion.

Erdogan has sent two energy drill ships into Cyprus’ Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ,) parts of which Turkey doesn’t recognize and as foreign companies have been licensed by the legitimate government to drill there.

They include the American energy giant ExxonMobil, which has reported a major gas find, raising the stakes in the increasingly tense political gambit made by Erdogan, with the European Union and United States backing Cyprus and telling him to back off.

He hasn’t, and with Turkey having previously provoked Greece when the Radical Left SYRIZA was in power, Erdogan told Turkish media he wants to see what Mitsotakis plans to do about it as former Premier Alexis Tsipras said the European Union should set sanctions.

Erdogan noted that he and Mitsotakis have talked cordially previously but that was before the Conservatives chief took the mantle of power, with fears rising there could be a military conflict in the region and with the Greek Armed Forces at one point put on high alert.

Erdogan said that he wants to see if Mitsotakis keeps to “nice words,” the Greek-Turkish relations could improve through a standing bilateral committee, although he didn’t say what would happen if not.

Erdogan noted that research and drilling ships Yavuz and Barbaros are in place in Cypriot waters and will stay there, guarded by the Turkish Navy and Air Force and that he doesn’t care one whit what Cyprus, the EU or US think about it.

Mitsotakis Ends Greeks Experiment With SYRIZA, Populism

ATHENS – The ascension of New Democracy leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis as Greece’s Prime Minister in July 7 snap elections finished Greeks with the Radical Left SYRIZA, showing the lessons populists get when they tangle with the markets and mainstream politics.

That was the assessment of The New York Times which reviewed Mitsotakis’ crunching victory over SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras, shown the door after reneging for 4 ½ years on anti-austerity vows and running into the brick wall of the European Union.

Tsipras stormed into power in January, 2015 on the back of promises to defy Greece’s creditors and stage a Leftist revolution across Europe, sounding like other populists and governments in Portugal and Italy which tried the same before being equally tamed.

Tsipras surrendered only seven months into his reign, seeking a third bailout of 86 billion euros ($96.97 billion) after saying he wouldn’t because it came with more crushing conditions he vowed to reject but implemented.

His brief defiance with the Eurozone he threatened to pull Greece out from before the European Central Bank said it would cut emergency liquidity and brought him to heel, was one of the stormiest periods in the EU’s history and rattled world markets a while.

But once he relented, he was on a path to defeat, even if it took another four years and some half-hearted counterpunches at the creditors with Mitsotakis’ victory, the paper said, bringing “the end of Greece’s flirtation with radical left-wing populist politics,” and made Tsipras less radical, pushed toward the center-left.

“The Tsipras experiment may hold important lessons for Europe and its new ranks of anti-establishment populists. While many, as in Italy, gleefully thumb their noses at the European Union and its rules, once in power the risks of following through on their rebelliousness may corral them from the extremes,” the paper wrote.

HE DIDN’T START A FIRE

Greece represented a special, wrenching case, but its experience showed that, especially for small countries, if you are in the Eurozone, “you’re not free to run a radical financial policy,” Charles Grant, Director of the Center for European Reform told the paper.

Mujtaba Rahman, Managing Director for Europe of Eurasia Group, agreed and said that, “The SYRIZA experiment is consistent with the experience of other E.. member states that also tried to defy the E.U. and capital markets and failed.”

He added the forces are too strong for populists to win because the reality of governing and need for money supersedes rhetoric and slogans, which Tsipras found out fast when he quickly buckled after spitfire speeches of defiance.

“When the EU and capital markets align, in seeking changes that will make a country’s finances more sustainable or improving the environment in which the private sector operates, governments — no matter how radical — have no real choice but to reform,” he said, which Tsipras discovered to his surprise.

Mark Leonard, Director of the European Council on Foreign Relations said some good came of Tsipras’ spanking. “Populists are not always as scary in office as they may appear,” he said, and the Leftist leader sure wasn’t, quickly cozying up to EU leaders such as German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who he said had been an archenemy of Greece.

German banks put up much of the 326 billion euros ($367.62 billion) in three bailouts that began in 2010 and propped up a Greek economy weakened by generations of wild spending and runaway patronage, continued by Tsipras who said he would stop it.

Indeed, he seemed to shine under the spotlight of praise put on him by EU leaders once they had corralled him and he reveled in the trappings of power while backing off promises to tax the rich, crush the oligarchy and bring Greek shipowners to heel before he did.

THE PRICE OF DEFIANCE

There was a big cost to Greece though, with Tsipras’ brief stand forcing him to seek the third rescue package. “The last four years have been a waste and totally unnecessary,”  Maria Demertzis, Deputy Director of Bruegel, an economic research institute in Brussels, who is Greek, told the paper. “Tsipras learned fast, but not before he had inflicted such a cost on the economy,” she added.

She said it was the waste of a crisis that could have been used to modernize the Greek state. For that reason, even though Greeks may be poor and exhausted by the long debt crisis, “there will be no honeymoon,” for Mitsotakis he said.

The New Democracy leader said he would cut taxes but Tsipras, in a last-ditch effort to win re-election, cost the state coffers some 1.7 billion euros ($1.92 billion) with a barrage of pension bonuses and tax cuts after he had slashed benefits and raised taxes.

The pro-business Mitsotakis’ aim to lower a primary surplus of 3.5 percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) has already been shot down by the Troika of the European Union-European Central Bank-European Stability Mechanism (EU-ECB-ESM) and tourist revenues are expected to fall after five straight record years.

Growth is expected to be a modest two percent after the GDP fell 25 percent during the crisis that began in 2010 and with Greece not being able to make a full market return even though the bailouts ended on Aug. 20, 2018.

Panos Tsakloglou, who teaches economics at Athens University and served as Chairman of the Greek Council of Economic Advisers from 2012-14 when a New Democracy-led coalition was in power under former Premier Antonis Samaras, said Tsipras didn’t push market liberalization because he didn’t believe in it.

“Mitsotakis will be better placed to go ahead with some of these reforms, he understands what kind of reforms are needed and knows how to do them,” he said.

Leonard said the EU had learned something from Greece’s populist period too, that, “You need to have a more balanced economic deal.” Greece, he said, “was an important petri dish for strict German economics, which haven’t succeeded.”

In Iran, Some Take Off Their Jijabs as Hard-Liners Push Back

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — The simple act of walking has become a display of defiance for a young Iranian woman who often moves in Tehran’s streets without a compulsory headscarf, or hijab.

With every step, she risks harassment or even arrest by Iran’s morality police whose job is to enforce the strict dress code imposed after the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

“I have to confess it is really, really scary,” the 30-year-old fire-safety consultant said in a WhatsApp audio message, speaking on condition of anonymity for fear of repercussions.

But she is also hopeful, saying she believes the authorities find it increasingly difficult to suppress protests as more women join in. “They are running after us, but cannot catch us,” she said. “This is why we believe change is going to be made.”

The hijab debate has further polarized Iranians at a time when the country is buckling under unprecedented U.S. sanctions imposed since the Trump administration pulled out of a 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers last year. It’s unclear to what extent the government can enforce hijab compliance amid an economic malaise, including a currency collapse and rising housing prices.

In this Thursday, July 11, 2019 photo, veiled Iranian women attend a ceremony in support of the observance of the Islamic dress code for women, in Tehran, Iran. (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi)

There’s anecdotal evidence that more women are pushing back against the dress code, trying to redefine red lines as they test the response of the ruling Shiite Muslim clergy and their security agencies.

An Associated Press reporter spotted about two dozen women in the streets without a hijab over the course of nine days, mainly in well-to-do areas of Tehran — a mall, a lakeside park, a hotel lobby.

Many other women, while stopping short of outright defiance, opted for loosely draped colorful scarves that show as much hair as they cover. Even in Tehran’s Grand Bazaar, frequented by many traditional women, most female shoppers wore these casual hijabs. Still, a sizeable minority of women was covered head-to-toe in black robes and tightly pulled headscarves, the so-called chador.

The struggle against compulsory headscarves first made headlines in December 2017 when a woman climbed atop a utility box in Tehran’s Revolution Street, waving her hijab on a stick. More than three dozen protesters have been detained since, including nine who are currently in detention, said Masih Alinejad, an Iranian activist who now lives in New York.

Despite attempts to silence protesters, public debate has intensified, amplified by social media.

In this Saturday, July 7, 2019, photo, Iranians take selfie around of the Persian Gulf Martyrs lake, west of Tehran, Iran. A few daring women in Iran’s capital have been taking off their mandatory headscarves, or hijabs, in public, risking arrest and drawing the ire of hard-liners. (AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi)

Last month, a widely watched online video showed a security agent grab an unveiled teenage girl and violently push her into the back of a police car, prompting widespread criticism.

President Hassan Rouhani and Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, have supported a softer attitude toward women who don’t comply with the official dress code. However, hard-liners opposed to such easing have become more influential as the nuclear deal is faltering.

They have called for harsh punishment, even lashes, arguing that allowing women to show their hair leads to moral decay and the disintegration of families. The judiciary recently urged Iranians to inform on women without hijabs by sending photos and videos to designated social media accounts.

“The more women dress in an openly sexual way, the less we’ll have social peace, while facing a higher crime rate,” Minoo Aslani, head of the women’s branch of the paramilitary Basij group, told a rally last week.

Another gathering was attended by several thousand women in chadors. One held up a sign reading, “The voluntary hijab is a plot by the enemy.”

Reformist lawmaker Parvaneh Salahshouri said coercion does not work. “What we see is that the morality police have been a failure,” said Salahshouri, who wears a headscarf out of religious belief.

Changing hijab rules through legislation is unlikely because of the constraints on parliament, she said.

In this Tuesday, July 2, 2019 photo, a head-to-toe veiled woman walks in the courtyard of the shrine of Saint Saleh in northern Tehran, Iran. (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi)

Instead, women should engage in non-violent civil disobedience, Salahshouri said. She cautioned that it’s a slow, difficult road, but that “Iranian women have not given up their efforts.”

The hijab controversy goes back to the mid-1930s when police forced women to take off their hijabs, part of a Westernization policy by then-Shah Reza Pahlavi. Under his son and successor, women could choose. Western apparel was common among the elite.

A 2018 survey by a parliament research center indicates that most women wear a casual hijab and only 13% opt for a chador.

Attitudes have changed. In 1980, two-thirds believed women should wear hijabs. Today, fewer than 45% approve of government intervention in the issue, the research said.

Iran has seen waves of anti-government protests, including an outcry after a 2009 election many contended was stolen by hard-liners. Those with economic grievances frequently protest.

Alinejad, the activist, argued the campaign against forced hijabs carries symbolic weight, saying that mandatory headscarves were “the symbol that the Iranian government used to take the whole society hostage.”

In recent years, she has posted videos and photos of activists, including of women filming themselves as they walk in the streets without a headscarf. Alinejad said she receives more than 20 images a day, but posts only some.

The activists in Iran take risks.

In this Wednesday, July 3, 2019 photo, a woman tests a crown for her wedding ceremony at a market in downtown Tehran, Iran. (AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi)

In March, human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh, who has represented female protesters, was sentenced to 38.5 years in prison, of which she must serve 12, according to her husband.

In April, activists Yasaman Aryani, her mother Monireh Arabshahi and Mojgan Keshavarz were arrested after posting a video showing them without headscarves in the Tehran metro. In the video, they distributed flowers to female passengers and spoke of a day when women have the freedom to choose.

Amnesty International said Monday that Iranian authorities have used incommunicado detentions, prolonged solitary confinement and threats against family members to coerce detained activists to retract their opposition to forced veiling in video-taped “confessions.” The group said it had detected such a pattern in six cases since April.

Some activists maneuver carefully.

The 30-year-old fire-safety consultant said she tries to avoid policemen when she walks the streets without a hijab. She said she grudgingly complies with the dress code when she delivers lectures or sings in a mixed choir — activities she would otherwise be barred from.

In this Saturday, July 6, 2019 photo, women walk on the shore of the Persian Gulf Martyrs’ Lake in Tehran, Iran. (AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi)

At the high-end Palladium Mall in northern Tehran, several shoppers casually ignored a sign reminding customers that the hijab is mandatory. One woman only pulled up her scarf, which was draped around her shoulders, when she stepped into an elevator and found herself next to a security guard.

Nearby, 20-year-old Paniz Masoumi sat on the stone steps of a plaza. She had dyed some of her hair blue, but kept that funky patch hidden under a loose scarf.

She said police recently impounded her car for two weeks, fining her amid claims that a traffic camera snapped her with a below-standard hijab.

If hijabs were voluntary, she’d throw off hers, Masoumi said. But for now, “I am not looking for trouble.”


By KARIN LAUB and MOHAMMAD NASIRI Associated Press

In this Tuesday, July 2, 2019 photo, two Iranian women take selfie outside a shopping mall in northern Tehran, Iran. A few daring women in Iran’s capital have been taking off their mandatory headscarves, or hijabs, in public, risking arrest and drawing the ire of hard-liners. Many others stop short of outright defiance and opt for loosely draped scarves that show as much hair as they cover. More women are pushing back against the dress code imposed after the 1979 Islamic Revolution, and activists say rebelling against the hijab is the most visible form of anti-government protest in Iran today. (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi)
In this Saturday, July 6, 2019 photo, women take memorial picture while spending an afternoon around the Persian Gulf Martyrs’ Lake in Tehran, Iran. A few daring women in Iran’s capital have been taking off their mandatory headscarves, or hijabs, in public, risking arrest and drawing the ire of hard-liners. Many others stop short of outright defiance and opt for loosely draped scarves that show as much hair as they cover. More women are pushing back against the dress code imposed after the 1979 Islamic Revolution, and activists say rebelling against the hijab is the most visible form of anti-government protest in Iran today. (AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi)
In this Saturday, July 6, 2019 photo, with different dress code, women spend an afternoon around the Persian Gulf Martyrs’ Lake in Tehran, Iran. A few daring women in Iran’s capital have been taking off their mandatory headscarves, or hijabs, in public, risking arrest and drawing the ire of hard-liners. Many others stop short of outright defiance and opt for loosely draped scarves that show as much hair as they cover. More women are pushing back against the dress code imposed after the 1979 Islamic Revolution, and activists say rebelling against the hijab is the most visible form of anti-government protest in Iran today. (AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi)
In this Saturday, July 6, 2019 photo, reformist Iranian lawmaker Parvaneh Salahshouri gives an interview to The Associated Press at her parliament office, in Tehran, Iran. Salahshouri who wears a headscarf out of religious belief, said coercion does not work to enforce compulsory headscarves for women. (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi)