Feared ‘morality police’ reappear in Iran

Feared ‘morality police’ reappear in Iran
Mahsa Amini fell into a coma while in morality police custody. / Combo photo of Twitter posts.
By bne IntelIiNews July 16, 2023

Iran's law enforcement forces have formally resumed ‘morality police’ street patrols nationwide in a renewed clampdown on women deemed to be flouting the nation's stringent Islamic dress codes, according to their spokesman, Saeed Montazerolmahdi, as reported by official news agency IRNA.

The move comes around two months before the first anniversary of the nationwide protests sparked by the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in Tehran morality police custody, following her arrest for allegedly wearing attire improperly at a subway entrance. Following Amini's death, the morality police vans were seemingly withdrawn from the streets as security forces attempted to quash the protests that swept the country for several months, killing more than 500 demonstrators in the process, according to international human rights groups.

Morality police foot patrols and cruiser van units are set to operate from July 16, targeting "those who persistently disregard the consequences of deviating from dress norms," Montazerolmahdi said.

In April, Iran's police chief announced that women could face court trials and have their cars impounded if they were caught by surveillance cameras loosely wearing their head coverings while inside their vehicles.

Around the same time came reports that numerous businesses and shopping centres had been compelled to shut down due to non-compliance with specified dress codes.

Unverified video footage released on Iranian social media on July 15 shows a woman in Tehran without a headscarf fighting with a chador-clad woman before being hauled off into a van.

Other social media accounts have confirmed the morality police forces are back on the streets in Tehran and further afield looking for those breaching the country’s Islamic rules.

Attempts by the hardline Raisi administration to deter women from dressing in a less Islamic way have failed to date, with many women ignoring mandatory hijab rules in cafes and restaurants.

Separately, on July 14, RFE/RL’s Radio Farda reported that a group of 54 Iranian lawyers who expressed support for the family of Mahsa Amini after she died in police custody have been summoned by judicial authorities to explain social media posts. Activists were reported as saying that the move was part of a campaign by officials to pressure them amid continued unrest over the suppression of women's rights by the regime.