Iran abolishes morality police after months of protests

Wednesday 07th December 2022 05:15 EST

Tehran: Iran has reportedly abolished its morality police, according to a statement from the attorney general that was broadcast on state media. This comes after months of unrest that was sparked by the death of Mahsa Amini, a young woman who was detained by the force for allegedly breaking the nation's strict Islamic dress regulations. According to state media reports, the statement by attorney general Mohammad Javad Montazeri claimed that "the same authorities who installed it abolished the morality police." But he went on to suggest that the judiciary would still enforce restrictions on “social behaviour”. He also indicated that the authorities were reviewing the head scarf regulations. But it was not clear whether the authorities planned to relax the hijab law, which remained in force.

The morality police's main duty was to uphold the laws governing Iran's strict Islamic dress code, which had been put in place following the 1979 Islamic Revolution and had recently been reinvigorated by the nation's new ultraconservative president. The dress code for women became an ideological pillar of the ruling clerical establishment, central to its identity.

Protesters chanted “woman, life, freedom,” tore off their hijabs, burned them in street bonfires and cut their hair in symbolic acts of defiance. University students chanted “Killings after killings, to hell with morality police!” But the protests soon grew to encompass the entire range of discontents with Iran’s ruling establishment, making it unclear whether protesters would be satisfied with this concession.

The morality police were subject to sanctions from the US in September. A crackdown by security forces in response to the protest movement has resulted in hundreds of deaths, and the government has threatened severe penalties for dissent, including executions. Rights groups say that at least 300 people have been killed since the protests began, including 50 minors, and the United Nations has said that some 14,000 people have been arrested.

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