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The uncertain status of Iran’s morality police

An Iranian official implied that the morality police has been abolished, leading to uncertainty over its status

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Iranians protests the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini after she was detained by the morality police, in Tehran.

In this photo taken by an individual not employed by The Associated Press and obtained by the AP outside of Iran, Iranians protests the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini after she was detained by the morality police, in Tehran, Oct. 1, 2022. In a report published by The Iranian student news agency, Nezamoddin Mousavi, an Iranian lawmaker said Sunday, Dec. 4, 2022, that Iran’s government was ‘‘paying attention to the people’s real demands,’’ a day after another key official announced that the country’s religious police force had been closed following months of deadly anti-government protests.

Associated Press

The status of Iran’s Guidance Patrol (transliterated Gasht-e-Ershad and nicknamed “morality police”) is uncertain.

According to the BBC, Attorney General Mohammad Jafar Montazeri, a senior Iranian official, said that the Guidance Patrol had been shut down. The BBC reported, “local media reported that his remarks had been ‘misinterpreted.’” The Iranian government has not confirmed Montazeri’s remarks.

The New York Times said that one state media channel said this comment was taken out of content and other state channels reiterated Iran’s support of the mandatory hijab law. Montazeri said that Iran was reviewing the law around hijabs.

What is the morality police?

The Guidance Patrol is a body that enforces particular Iranian laws.

According to CBS News, it was established in 2006, but since the 1979 Islamic Revolution, authorities have enforced certain modesty rules. The hijab became mandatory in 1983 and women have been arrested for the last 15 years for not wearing it.

Why are there protests in Iran?

The Deseret News previously reported Mahsa Amini was arrested by the morality police for an alleged violation of the rules that require women to cover their hair with a hijab, according to the BBC. She died three days later. Some reports say that her head was beaten with a baton and images circulated of her in a coma.

In solidarity, women took off their hijabs in public and since then, they have led protests joined by men and children to advocate for their human rights. The demands range from increased freedom to overthrowing the state.