Announcements and denials: how Iran has not dissolved the 'morality police'

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  • The country's attorney general, Mohamad Jafar Montazeri, had assured that these patrols 'had nothing to do with the judiciary'

  • This Sunday, Iranian state television has confirmed that these patrols are still in force, although they are no longer present on the streets

Announcements and denials: how Iran has not dissolved the ‘police of morality’

At first it seemed so. but no, although yes. but in the end nothing: Iran , through its state television , has denied this Sunday that the Islamic Republic< /strong> has dissolved its morality police, a body in the eye of the hurricane since September of this year. On the 13th of that month, a group of police officers from this body arrested the young Mahsa Amini in the center of Tehran.

The 22-year-old died shortly after. in police custody, after receiving a beating by the officers. His death sparked a wave of protests that, three months later, not only continues but threatens the foundations of Iran and its ayatollahs regime. strong>. At first, the demonstrations called for an end to the mandatory hijab in the country. Now they are clamoring for the fall of the entire Islamic Republic. 

“[The morale patrol] has nothing to do with the judiciary >. The police, who created it, have stopped it themselves,” said the country's attorney general, Mohamad Yafar Montazeri this Saturday in an interview. His words were interpreted as a sign that the morale patrol, which has not patrolled since September, was going to be dismantled.

Not so. “Iran's attorney general has simply made it clear that the patrols do not follow judicial authority, and that whoever established them is responsible for them. in the past it has canceled them now. No official of the Islamic Republic has confirmed the dismantling of the morality police,” Iranian public television said this Sunday, Al-Alam, who continued:

“Some foreign media have tried to portray the prosecutor's words as a retreat on issues such as chastity and hijab & rdquor ;, continues the state media. The prosecutor was referring only to the fact that, since Amini's death, these patrols no longer patrol.

Changes in sight?

In his statement, apart from his ambiguity with the morale patrols, Montazerí he also referred to to the compulsory veil. Nor did he clarify the question. “The bad hijab —the veil worn without covering the hair “sufficiently”— In the country, especially in the holy city of Qom, it is one of the main concerns of the judiciary as well. as of our revolutionary societya. But it should be noted that judicial action is the last resort and cultural measures come before any other,” said Montazeri.

With this, the prosecutor hinted at a future and hypothetical judicial decriminalization of “misuse” She would not wear the hijab, which would still be mandatory for all women in Iran. 

“Despite the fact that the regime's press has quickly come out to deny that the morality police have been shut down, yes, they are. “There seem to be signs that some circles within the government are debating whether to relax, change, or gloss over hijab laws,” writes Iranian academic Dr. Arash Azizi

“However, I find it very difficult to think that [supreme leader, the Ayatollah, was the leader of the world]. Ali] Khamenei Why can I grant something like that? on this front”, continues the expert. For the most conservative sectors within the government of Iran —the ayatollah — and the current president, Ebrahim Raisí, are part of them— the mandatory veil is one of the cornerstones of the Islamic Republic. 

Meanwhile, the protests continue: the demonstrators have scheduled, for this week, three days of general strike and protests throughout the country. The death toll during the wave of demonstrations now exceeds 450 —the vast majority at the hands of the police—, and at least five Protestants have been sentenced to death for having participated in the riots. And the repression does not stop: this Sunday, four people were executed for allegedly having “collaborated withIsrael”.