Iran Abolishes ‘Morality Police’ After Months-Long Protest

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Iran Abolishes ‘Morality Police’ After Months-Long Protest

Iran disbands its morality police units after more than two months of protests

Tehran:

Iran has abolished its morality police after more than two months of protests over the arrest of Mahsa Amini for violating the country’s strict laws. Women’s dress codeLocal media reported this on Sunday.

Protest led by womenThe “riot” by authorities has had a ripple effect in Iran since a 22-year-old of Kurdish origin died in Iranian custody on September 16, three days after he was arrested by Tehran’s morality police.

Protesters burned their mandatory hijab head coverings and chanted anti-government slogans, and since Amini’s death, an increasing number of women have failed to wear the hijab, particularly in parts of Tehran.

“The morality police has nothing to do with the judiciary and has been abolished,” ISNA news agency quoted Attorney General Mohammad Zafar Montazri as saying.

His comments came at a religious conference where he responded to an attendee who asked “why the morality police are being shut down”, the report said.

Since the 1979 Islamic Revolution that overthrew Iran’s US-backed monarchy, there has been some sort of government oversight of strict dress codes for both men and women.

But under hardline President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the morality police — officially known as Gasht-e Ershad, or “Guidance Patrol” — was established “to spread the culture of decency and hijab”.

The units were established by the Supreme Council of Iran’s Cultural Revolution, which today is headed by the president Ibrahim Raisi.

They began their patrols in 2006 to enforce a dress code that requires women to wear long dresses and ban shorts, ripped jeans and other clothing deemed indecent.

The announcement of the unit’s disbandment came a day after Montajeri said “both parliament and the judiciary are working” on whether the law requiring women to cover their heads needs to be changed.

Raisi said in televised remarks on Saturday that Iran’s republican and Islamic foundations are constitutional “but there are procedures for implementing the constitution that can be flexible”.

‘spreading corruption’

Hijab became compulsory in 1983.

Morality police officers issued early warnings before they began cracking down and arresting women 15 years ago.

Squads were usually made up of men in green uniforms and women in black cloaks, covering their heads and upper bodies.

The role of the units has evolved, but has always been controversial, even among contenders for the presidency.

Dress codes gradually changed, especially under former moderate President Hassan Rouhani, when it became common to see women wearing tight jeans with loose, colorful headscarves.

But in July this year her successor, the ultra-conservative Raisi, called for “all state institutions to implement the headscarf law” to unite.

Raisi complained at the time that “the enemies of Iran and Islam have targeted the cultural and religious values ​​of the society by spreading corruption”.

Saudi Arabia, Iran’s regional rival, has also employed morality police to enforce women’s dress codes and other rules of conduct. Forces have been withdrawn since 2016 to shed the Sunni Muslim state’s hardline image.

In September, the country’s main reformist party, the Islamic Iran People’s Party Union, called for the repeal of the hijab law.

The group, made up of relatives of former reformist President Mohammad Khatami, demanded the authorities “prepare the legal elements to pave the way for the repeal of the mandatory hijab law”.

As recently as Saturday it called on the Islamic Republic to “formally declare an end to morality police operations” and “allow peaceful protests”.

Iran accuses its foes the United States and its allies, including Britain and Israel, and Kurdish groups based outside the country of inciting the street protests.

An Iranian general said Monday that more than 300 people had been killed in the unrest, including dozens of members of the security forces.

“At least 448 people have been killed by security forces in ongoing nationwide protests,” the Oslo-based NGO Iran Human Rights said on Tuesday.

Thousands of people including prominent Iranian actors and footballers have been arrested.

Among them was actor Hengameh Ghaziani, who was detained last month. She posted a video of herself taking off her head covering on Instagram. He was later released on bail, Iranian news agencies reported.

(Except for the headline, this story was not edited by NDTV staff and appeared on a syndicated feed.)

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