Iran has since dismantled its morality policeLocal media reported on Sunday that it was prompted by Mahsa Amini’s death following her arrest for allegedly violating the country’s strict female dress code, citing an Iranian official. Women-led protests branded “riots” by authorities have taken place in Iran since the death of a 22-year-old Iranian woman of Kurdish origin on September 16, three days after she was arrested by morality police in Tehran.
Demonstrators burned their mandatory hijab headscarves and chanted anti-government slogans, and a growing number of women refused to wear the hijab, particularly in parts of Tehran.
ISNA news agency quoted Attorney General Mohammad Zafar Montazeri as saying, “The morality police has no connection with the judiciary and has been abolished.” His comment came at a religious conference, where he answered the question “Why is the Moral Police being shut down?”
The move, if confirmed, would represent a rare concession to the opposition movement, and officials have acknowledged the depressing effect of the economic crisis fueled by US sanctions.
But as CBS spokeswoman Holly Williams reported Monday, there has been no confirmation from the Iranian regime of a plan to shut down the morality police, and her comments were met with a lot of skepticism. Williams says the protesters are demanding a more fundamental change in the way their nation is run, and it seems unlikely that they will decide to leave the streets and go home peacefully, even with a bad police force. dissolved.
“The best way to deal with unrest … is to pay attention to the real demands of the people,” said Seyed Nejamaldin Mousavi, spokesman for the Parliamentary Presidium Council, referring to “livelihoods and the economy” in the Islamic Republic.
Since the Islamic revolution toppled Iran’s US-backed monarchy in 1979, authorities have monitored strict dress codes for women and men.
But under hardline President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the Morality Police – formally known as Kasht-e Ershad, or “guidance patrol” – was established to “spread the culture of modesty and the hijab”.
These units were established by Iran’s Supreme Council for the Cultural Revolution, headed today by President Ibrahim Raisi.
They began their patrols in 2006 to enforce a dress code requiring women to wear long dresses and banning shorts, ripped jeans and other clothing deemed immodest.
The announcement of the abolition of the units came a day after Montessori said that “both parliament and the judiciary are working” on the issue of changing the law requiring women to cover their heads.
Iran’s republican and Islamic foundations are constitutionally entrenched, Raisi said in televised remarks on Saturday “but the methods of implementing the constitution will be flexible.”
Hijab became compulsory in 1983. Morality police officers initially issued warnings before cracking down on and arresting women 15 years ago.
The teams usually consisted of men wearing green uniforms and women wearing black chadors, head and upper body coverings.
The role of units evolved, but was always controversial.
Dress codes gradually changed, especially under former moderate President Hassan Rouhani, where it became common to see women in tight jeans and loose, colorful headscarves.
But in July this year her successor, the ultra-conservative Raisi, called for the mobilization of “all government agencies to enforce the headscarf law”.
“Enemies of Iran and Islam have targeted the society’s cultural and religious values by spreading corruption,” Raisi charged at the time.
Iran’s regional rival, Saudi Arabia, also used morality police to enforce women’s dress codes and other codes of conduct. Since 2016, power there has been sidelined by the Sunni Muslim kingdom shedding its hardline image.
In September, the country’s main reformist party, the Union of Islamic Iran People’s Party, called for the hijab law to be repealed.
The party, formed by relatives of former reformist President Mohammad Khatami, is calling on authorities to “prepare the legal elements that will pave the way for the repeal of the mandatory hijab law”.
On Saturday it called on the Islamic Republic to publicly shut down its morality police and “allow peaceful demonstrations”.
Iran accuses its adversary, the United States and its allies, including Britain and Israel, as well as Kurdish groups outside the country of fomenting street protests.
More than 300 people have been killed in the unrest, including dozens of members of the security forces, an Iranian general said on Monday.
The Oslo-based NGO Iran Human Rights said last week that at least 448 people were “killed by security forces in nationwide protests”.
Thousands have been arrested, including prominent Iranian actors and footballers.
Actor Hengame Ghasiani was among them arrested last month. He posted a video of himself removing his helmet on Instagram. He was later released on bail, Iranian news agencies said.