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Vast majority of Iranians want a secular government, poll reveals

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi speaks at a rally on February 11
Most Iranians now want a secular government, according to new poll - APAImages/Shutterstock/Shutterstock

Almost three-quarters of Iranians want a secular government instead of a theocratic dictatorship, an anonymous state-run poll has revealed.

The survey also revealed that less than one in 10 people think women should be forced to wear a hijab.

The poll suggests a major shift in attitudes towards Iran’s religious regime has occurred since the 2022 Women, Life, Freedom uprising.

The movement saw protests erupt across the country after the death in morality-police custody of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, arrested for the improper use of her hijab.

Over 15,800 Iranians of voting age across 31 provinces took part in the fourth anonymous study run by the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance. The last one was in 2015.

It shows a sharp uptick in demands for secular rule, up from 31 per cent to 73 per cent, indicating the push for secularism will probably grow in coming years.

The death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini led to widespread protests
The death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in police custody led to widespread protests - NurPhoto/NurPhoto

Only 7.9 per cent of respondents said they agree women must be made to wear hijab, down from 18.6 percent.

The number of those actively objecting to the imposition of the mandatory hijab increased from 15.7 per cent to 34.4 per cent, while 38 per cent said they are not against people who break the hijab laws, up from 10.6 per cent.

The major change in views on hijabs comes despite ongoing morality-police patrols, undercover surveillance and bans on uncovered women from the likes of workplaces, social spaces and education.

A massive 85 per cent of those surveyed said Iranians have become less religious compared to five years ago, with only seven per cent claiming to have become more religious.

A further 81 per cent anticipate a continued decline in religious observance over the next five years, with support for the mandatory hijab seeing a sharp decline.

The results come amid a crackdown on civil and religious liberties in the country. Last year saw a record number of executions as the regime battles to fight for legitimacy on the eve of upcoming elections on March 1.

The United Nations says at least 834 people were executed in Iran last year as the government quashed dissent, the highest per capita in the world. At least 500 more have been killed in brutal crackdowns on protests since September 2022.