A senior member of Iran’s government has suggested the controversial “morality police” — the unit of officers who police women’s dress to ensure it is sufficiently modest — has been disbanded. But activists are sceptical of any claims made by the regime, especially as pressure from protestors grows.
According to BBC, Iran’s attorney general Mohamed Jafar Montazeri implied on Saturday that the morality police had been abolished.
“The morality police had nothing to do with the judiciary and have been shut down from where they were set up,” he said.
He also suggested the Iranian parliament would review the law which mandates the hijab for all women. Which, obviously, is a huge deal for women’s rights activists across the country who have been holding protests for two and a half months after the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini.
The young Kurdish woman was arrested in Tehran by Iran’s morality police for allegedly wearing her hijab “incorrectly”. She died days later and her family claimed her death was a result of police brutality.
Amini’s death triggered an unstoppable wave of righteous anger that saw thousands of Iranian women and young people take to the streets to protest her death, restrictive clothing laws and Iran’s clerical rulers as a whole. Hijabs were burned and crowds rioted in protests, not just in Iran but across the world.
Thousands were arrested and hundreds executed as the Iranian government cracked down on dissidence and pressure on the regime rose to boiling point, with threats of execution running rampant.
If the morality police has been abolished, then protesters have finally won — but activists aren’t celebrating just yet.
According to the ABC, the local agency which reported Montazeri’s quotes has not provided any details on whether the morality police has actually been shut down, and no state media reports confirm that happened either.
Instead, they’ve said Montazeri isn’t responsible for overseeing the force — that’s the Interior Ministry’s job. No, the Interior Ministry hasn’t confirmed the status of the morality police either. So, it’s all looking pretty suss.
Iran's regime media have also been quick at work, clarifying the the issue and denying that Guidance Patrol has been shut.— Arash Azizi آرش عزیزی (@arash_tehran) December 4, 2022
Please note that as I said above, Montazeri DID say "they launched it and they shut it themselves" so this is why the world media has been quick to report that the GP has been "shut."— Arash Azizi آرش عزیزی (@arash_tehran) December 4, 2022
But this is at best a very unclear and inconclusive remark uttered in the middle of a presser
Demonstrators have said they’ll continue protesting until the regime as a whole has been changed.
“Just because the government has decided to dismantle morality police, it doesn’t mean the protests are ending,” one Iranian woman told the BBC World Service’s Newshour program.
“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.”
To international media:— Masih Alinejad 🏳️ (@AlinejadMasih) December 4, 2022
1) abolishing morality police in Iran is disinformation but it shows the fear of the regime.
2) Regime’s empty promises are a sign of desperation that the uprising continues
3) People are united in their demand for an end to Islamic Republic#MahsaAmini
“We, the protesters, don’t care about no hijab no more. We’ve been going out without it for the past 70 days,” another protestor 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.”
Activists have also pointed out that while the morality police (which is just one unit of the force) may or may not be abolished, the laws used to arrest women for immodest clothing still remain — so really, there would be no systemic change and the fight remains.