Iran Abolishes Morality Police

By Lucy Panicacci

Culture Editor

On Dec. 3, Iran’s Attorney General Mohammad Javad Montazeri stated that the Iranian government had abolished the morality police — formally known as the Guidance Patrol — an announcement followed by speculation and criticism that this was only a stunt to appease and distract protestors. Former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad established the security force in 2006 to “spread the culture of modesty and hijab” by enforcing a strict dress code for women and men.

 The possible decision to abolish the force follows months of protests and political turmoil in Iran. The death of 22-year-old Iranian woman Mahsa Amini in September ignited protests surrounding the morality police. On Sept. 13, the morality police detained the young woman for breaking rules regarding head coverings. Amini later died in police custody on Sept. 16. The police said Amini had fallen ill and slipped into a coma. Her coroner report concluded the cause of death was multiple organ failure. However, her family believes officers beat Amini to death, referring to the accounts of eyewitnesses. Following her death, more women began appearing publicly with their hair uncovered. Videos from witnesses show authorities beating and arresting women for this act of protest. 

Iranian government officials remained silent following Montazeri’s announcement, sparking confusion from the Iranian people. The state television channel Al Alam even denied the disbanding of the group, stating, “No official of the Islamic Republic of Iran has said that the Guidance Patrol has been shut.” At a news conference in Serbia, Iran’s foreign minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian responded to the situation by stating, “In Iran, everything is moving forward well in the framework of democracy and freedom.” 

Many believe that the ban of the morality police will not be a major change, and more reform is still necessary. Iranian women’s rights advocate Shadi Sahr stated on Twitter, “Hijab is still compulsory and enforced by other means such as expulsion from university or school.” Additionally, an Iranian woman told BBC News, “Just because the government has decided to dismantle morality police, it doesn’t mean the protests are ending. Even the government saying the hijab is a personal choice is not enough. People know Iran has no future with this government in power. We will see more people from different factions of Iranian society, moderate and traditional, coming out in support of women to get more of their rights back.”

Iranian protesters are no longer focused on changes of laws; they are focused on changing the system itself. Sahr reasserts that the fight will not end “until the regime is gone.” 

(Sources: BBC News, CBS News, NBC News, NY Times)

Categories: News, World

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