Iran: Nope, Morality Cops Not Going Anywhere

State media denies reports that morality police will be disbanded following riots
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 4, 2022 10:10 AM CST
Updated Dec 5, 2022 3:21 AM CST
After Months of Protests, Iran Drops Morality Police
Women conduct their business without wearing their mandatory Islamic headscarves in a commercial district in northern Tehran in November.   (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi)
UPDATE Dec 5, 2022 3:21 AM CST

Iranian state media quickly pushed back on reports that Iran was disbanding its morality police. It was the attorney general who was quoted saying as much, but per state media, it's not the judiciary that oversees the morality police force—it's the interior ministry, which has not yet responded to CNN's request for a comment. "No official of the Islamic Republic of Iran has said that the Guidance Patrol has been shut," Arab-language Al-Alam state television reported Sunday. "Some foreign media have attempted to interpret these words by the prosecutor-general as the Islamic Republic retreating from the issue of Hijab and modesty and claim that it is due to the recent riots.”

Dec 4, 2022 10:10 AM CST

Iran has announced that it is disbanding the force, called the morality police, that enforces the nation's Islamic dress code and is considering changes to the requirement that women keep their heads covered in public. Widespread protests led by women have been taking place for months in Iran over the death of Mahsa Amini, 22, who was accused of violating the hijab rules and taken into custody. "Morality police have nothing to do with the judiciary and have been abolished," said Attorney General Mohammad Jafar Montazeri, per the ISNA news agency, Deutsche Welle reports. He suggested that women could still face restrictions and enforcement, however.

"Of course, the judiciary continues to monitor behavioral actions," Montazeri said at a religious conference. State news agencies said prosecutions for morality crimes, including death sentences, will continue. Montazeri made the revelation in answer to a question at the event Sunday, a day after telling parliament the hijab requirement should be reconsidered. The government actions could be aimed at deflating the demonstrations, but protesters told the BBC they won't be enough to end the protests, which have broadened to include many issues. "We, the protesters, don't care about no hijab no more. We've been going out without it for the past 70 days," one woman said. "A revolution is what we have. Hijab was the start of it and we don't want anything, anything less, but death for the dictator and a regime change."

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In a televised speech, President Ebrahim Raisi said the Islamic system is part of Iran's constitution, though he added, "There are methods of implementing the constitution that can be flexible," per the Wall Street Journal. Montazeri said the hijab law changes could be implemented this month; women have burned the headscarves at protests, and many have stopped wearing them altogether. An outside analyst was skeptical of the officials' announcements. "I think that they are just trying to show that they can be flexible, but what they are not doing is making meaningful compromises," said Sanam Vakil of a London-based think tank. (Read more Iran protests stories.)

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