Flesh peddling and drug pushing have made a comeback in Tehran, prompting the nation's Islamic fundamentalist leaders to arrest thousands of people and wall off a suddenly resurgent red-light district, news reports say.
Authorities arrested more than 3,000 prostitutes, drug addicts and pushers - some of whom will be executed - during a recent sweep in the capital, the reports say.The daily Kayhan quoted Interior Minister Ali Akbar Mohtashemi as saying Tehran's red-light district of Jamshid has been cut off from the rest of the city by a high wall, pending the demolition of all of its buildings.
The paper said the crackdown followed a confidential report to the government by Iran's official Islamic Republic News Agency.
The report warned that the rampant corruption in Jamshid "poses a threat to the morality of the city as a whole."
"Notorious women entertain undisciplined customers while the extent of drug abuse and peddling is so pervasive that passers-by can see hundreds of addicts roaming in the quarter," the newspaper quoted the report as saying.
Mohtashemi was quoted as saying "all the wrongdoers in the neighborhood were arrested in a sudden raid. They included 1,300 women, a larger number of men and 700 children and adolescents."
The reports in Kayhan and another newspaper, Jomhuri Islami, excerpted and translated into English, reached Cyprus by mail several weeks after publication in Iran.
The newspapers said Morteza Eshraqi, the Islamic Revolution's prosecutor for the Tehran district, told a news conference that a bill before the Majlis, or parliament, includes harsher punishment for drug-related offenses.
The death penalty will be mandatory for people found guilty of posessing 1 ounce of heroin or 11 pounds of opium, Eshraqi said.