Iran’s Morality Police Resume Patrolling After Nationwide Protests Sparked by Woman’s Death

Iran Cracks Down on Hijab Violations

Iranian authorities have initiated a new campaign to enforce the mandatory wearing of the Islamic headscarf, known as hijab, in public. This move comes ten months after the death of a woman in their custody sparked mass protests across the country. In the aftermath of the protests, the “morality police” had scaled back their presence on the streets, but they have now returned to ensure compliance with the dress code.

The death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in September last year ignited nationwide demonstrations, with protesters calling for the overthrow of Iran’s ruling theocracy. The demonstrations petered out earlier this year after a brutal crackdown that left over 500 protesters dead and nearly 20,000 detained. However, despite the government’s efforts, many women continued to defy the official dress code, particularly in Tehran and other cities.

Previously, the “morality police” were seldom seen patrolling the streets, and there were even rumors in December that they had been disbanded, which were later denied. Iranian authorities have consistently stated that the rules regarding hijab have not changed. The ruling clerics view the hijab as a symbol of the Islamic revolution that brought them to power and consider more relaxed dress styles as signs of western decadence.

To reinforce the dress code, Gen Saeed Montazerolmahdi, a police spokesperson, announced that the “morality police” would resume their duties of notifying and detaining women who do not wear hijab in public. In Tehran, marked vans carrying male and female officers of the “morality police” were spotted patrolling the streets.

In a recent incident, Mohammed Sadeghi, a relatively unknown actor, was arrested during a police raid on his home, which he had streamed on social media. He was taken into custody after posting a video expressing his outrage at the detention of a woman by the “morality police.” The semi-official Hamshahri daily reported that he was arrested for supposedly inciting violence against the police.

The battle over the hijab has been a rallying cry for Iranians, with women playing a prominent role in the protests. The demonstrations quickly transformed into calls for the overthrow of Iran’s clerical rulers, accusing them of corruption, repression, and being out of touch. The Iranian government has consistently attributed the protests to foreign conspiracies without providing any evidence.

During the protests, several Iranian celebrities, including directors and actors from the film industry, joined in, resulting in their arrests for not wearing hijabs or for supporting the demonstrations. Azadeh Samadi, an actor, was even barred from social media and ordered by a court to undergo psychological treatment for what they deemed an “antisocial personality disorder” after attending a funeral wearing a cap on her head.

The renewed effort by Iranian authorities to enforce the mandatory hijab reflects their determination to preserve the religious interpretation of the Islamic revolution. This campaign, accompanied by high-profile arrests, indicates that the government will not tolerate any opposition to their strict dress codes. As Iran continues to grapple with internal dissent and external pressure, it remains to be seen how these measures will shape the future of personal freedoms in the country.