Iranian Youth Challenge Strict Islamic Code

ByABC News
August 30, 2004, 2:44 PM

T E H R A N, Iran, Feb. 20 -- You have to look closely, but Iranians have been behaving in ways that until recently were considered unacceptable and un-Islamic here.

Today, some girls wear makeup. They push their veils farther and farther back on their heads showing some of their hair, which conservative Muslims consider risqué. Unmarried couples hold hands in public. Teenagers listen openly to Western pop music.

The changes are subtle, in a country where Iranian men and women still must abide by a strict Islamic code. Women must wear the familiar, frumpy chador, a black flowing robe which translates into English as "tent." Men are still officially prohibited from accompanying women other than their wives and female relatives. But very slowly, young Iranians are tasting new social freedoms.

Farhad his English nickname is Freddy is the lead singer of the Tehran heavy metal rock band "Moghan," or "The Priests." Bands like his were forbidden into the late 1990s. Now, they can practice and sometimes play concerts. Some bands even sell CDs, though only with the approval of an official Islamic committee.

"Nobody bothers us," said Farhad. "Even though right across from us, there's a guy from the revolutionary guards. They are used to it by now."

We Have Rave Parties

Behind closed doors, young Iranians constantly told us, they are pushing the limits of Iran's conservative Muslim society even further.

"The nightlife in Iran is amazing," a 25-year-old engineering student told me. (He, like many young people, asked that ABCNEWS not use his name.) "In the suburbs around Tehran, you can see everything. You can never imagine to see it in Las Vegas, I think."

"We have rave parties," a 27-year-old woman said. "We have ecstasy parties, which is in fashion recently, cocaine parties, coke parties."