TEHRAN – The wearing of ties in Iran has been a social taboo for the past four decades following the Islamic revolution as government leaders in the Middle Eastern nation consider the necktie to be a symbol of the west and a perversion of religious culture.
Although some shop windows still display ties, sales are reportedly low and shop owners selling neckties face hurdles.
“The tie is seen by the authorities as a western garment and that is why they put us as sellers in trouble,” Mohamad Hussein, a 23-year-old employee at a clothing store in Tehran’s popular Tajrish Bazaar, told EFE.
Though not forbidden by law, ties are never seen on government officials or civil servants in the Shia-majority country.
Hussein explained that when a government inspector enters his mall, the security staff warn him to remove the ties from his shop’s display windows before the inspector sees his shop.
“We quickly hide the ties so that the inspector does not see them. He could close the store, as long as there are three mannequins with ties in the window display. Or (the inspector) could impose a fine if there is only one mannequin,” Hussein explained.
Fines are not fixed, as they rely on the discretion of the inspector.
The present image of the necktie as a symbol of cultural decadence is often shown on Iranian television series where only villains or gangsters wear them.
However, this has not always been the case.
Neckties were relatively popular in Iran before the uprising that overthrew the monarchy of Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi in 1979.
Even among Islamist revolutionaries there was discord around the use of the necktie as some of the revolution’s left-wing Islamist leaders such as sociologist, Ali Shariati, and Iran’s first prime minister after the revolution, Mehdi Bazargan, were tie wearers.
Even today, the necktie is sometimes worn.
A 38-year-old engineer from Tehran called Farshid told EFE that he has been wearing ties “at parties that are somehow formal” and at weddings.
Farshid said police are relatively accustomed to seeing the tie at weddings and other private events: “The police have never warned me not to wear the tie, although it is true that I have never worn it while walking down the street.”