One of the most catastrophic activities was the issue of January 8th 1936, which took place during Reza Shah's reign. According to one plan, the enemies of Islam and Iran, enjoying the assistance of the "intellectuals" affiliated with the Pahlavi dynasty, decided to separate the Iranian women from their decency and hijab; they developed this plan in order to eradicate the tremendous power of faith that existed in Muslim societies--owing to the decency of women.
One of the gravest crimes committed by the evil Pahlavi regime was the issue of January 8th, 1936. The banning of hijab removed the privacy screen and distance set forth by Islam between the two sexes. Hijab is a wholesome practice that benefits men and women, as well as society. It renders the society healthy and safe. They planned to inflict all the malicious abuse suffered by women in Western societies on Muslim, Iranian women. Using strong-arm tactics, Reza Khan carried out this plan inside the country.
What Western women achieved, by plummeting into a quagmire of corruption and perversion, was the destruction of the family environment. That women could only advance in science, politics, or in social activities by simply removing hijab was an absolute falsity. Women could do so (advance intellectually and socially) by maintaining their hijab and decency, and we have experienced this fact in our Islamic country. Banning hijab was a prelude to stripping women of their dignity and decency. It was meant to keep people occupied with powerful sexual desires. They wanted to prevent people from accomplishing other things, and they were successful for some time.
But, the strong faith of the Iranian nation did not let this happen. In spite of all the strictures on hijab in the past, our Muslim women resisted suppression in various ways, during and after Reza Khan's reign, and during the remaining rule of the evil Pahlavi regime. Consequently, on January 7, 1978, in Mashhad, a great procession of Muslim women sparked off a demonstration calling for the "keeping of hijab." I was in exile when we heard the news of the brave, faithful Muslim women who had provoked the demonstration.
What I said was only a tiny fraction of all the disasters that the Pahlavi regime had caused. They destroyed religious ideals, moral values, economic growth and our international honor; in short, all the assets of a nation were among the acts that the dictatorial and tyrannical regime committed.
Ayatollah Khamenei, Jan 9, 2008