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Iran to freeze the bank accounts of hijab refusers, highlighting the benefits of crypto banking

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(Kitco News) - As protests against Iran’s hard-line stance on women wearing a hijab in public continue, a member of the Iranian parliament indicated that the government plans to freeze the bank accounts of individuals who refuse to comply with the mandate.

Hossein Jalali, a member of the Cultural Commission of the Islamic Consultative Assembly, made the comments while speaking to Iranian media on Tuesday, warning that “unveiled persons” would receive two warnings before ultimately having their bank accounts frozen.

Jalali confidently proclaimed that “scarves will return to women’s heads in a week or two” while discussing the new plan, calling the protestors “thugs and mobs.”

The response from the crypto community was immediate, with many using the opportunity to promote decentralization and the ability of cryptocurrencies to help people reclaim their financial sovereignty and escape the control of the government and its central bank.

The fact that Iran is already in the pilot testing phase of exploring its own central bank digital currency (CBDC) – the crypto rial – only intensified the concerns voiced by the crypto community as a government-controlled CBDC would allow an unprecedented level of control over the finances of citizens.

Some have highlighted the growing trend of governments resorting to freezing bank accounts, as was seen in Canada earlier in 2022 during the convoy protest, while others highlighted a move by some governments to limit withdrawals of physical cash, as was just implemented in Nigeria in an effort to boost the adoption of the eNaira.

The need for an established crypto banking sector for Iranians was summed up nicely by Twitter user Ilya Arbabi in an earlier tweet posted in response to Twitter CEO Elon Musk’s question about Starlink donations.

“Iranians inside Iran can only make payments with crypto. Services such as Visa, MasterCard, PayPal or any form of international banking is not available to us. Any form of crypto payment gateway would be much appreciated,” Arbabi said.

Making matters even more dystopian, officials in the Iranian government have suggested that cameras and artificial intelligence be utilized to identify and track down offenders.

Ali Khan Mohammadi, the spokesperson of the headquarters of Amr Be Ma'rouf and Nahi Ya Mankar, highlighted the use of cameras to identify offenders, saying “These cameras can bring the party's national code in the form of artificial intelligence.”

Musa Ghazanfarabadi, head of the legal and judicial commission of the parliament, reaffirmed this approach, saying "Just like license plate reader cameras record traffic violations, facial imaging cameras record violations related to people's hijab, and those who have committed violations are deprived of social rights in other places."

Overall, the crypto community is using this development to highlight how Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies can help citizens get out from under the boot of their governments and central banks and restore their monetary sovereignty.

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