Iranian authorities have abolished the country’s vice squad – which would punish women in public for not conforming to the country’s strict dress code – after months of anti-government protests across the country sparked by the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini They were arrested and beaten by the controversial police.
The move was announced by Iran’s Attorney General Mohammad Jafar Montazeri, who said the morality police had “nothing to do with the judiciary” and would therefore be abolished, AFP reported on Sunday, citing local media reports.
Montazeri’s comment was made during a religious event and was in response to an attendee’s question about the status of the vice squad.
The controversial police force and its top officers have faced a range of sanctions from several countries including the US, UK, Canada and the EU.
Iranian media reported on Saturday, citing Montazeri, that the country’s government is reviewing its laws on women’s dress code – which requires them to cover their heads with a hijab and wear loose-fitting clothing that covers their arms and legs.
Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi also alluded to possible reforms in a televised address on Saturday, in which he reaffirmed the link between Iran’s Islamic and Republican foundations, but added that “there are methods of implementing the constitution that can be flexible.” .
What to look out for
The announcement is likely an attempt by the Iranian government to quell the protests that have rocked the country since September. However, it is unclear whether protesters will see this as a fitting concession from the government, which continues to crack down on public dissent. While the protests initially began as anti-Hijab demonstrations, they have gradually morphed into broader opposition to the country’s orthodox Islamic regime, with many even calling for the ouster of Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
Despite offering to make changes to its strict dress code, the Iranian government has continued to crack down on all protests across the country. At least 470 protesters were killed in the raid as of Sunday. corresponding the US-based group Human Rights Activists in Iran. At least 64 children are among the total number killed, the report adds. In a statement released on Friday, Javaid Rehman, the UN special rapporteur on human rights in Iran, said more than 14,000 people have been arrested since September 16, “including human rights defenders, journalists, lawyers, students, civil and minority rights activists, intellectuals and artists .”
The ongoing protests across Iran were sparked by the September death of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old Kurdish woman. On September 13, Amini, who was visiting Tehran, was arrested by the vice squad for allegedly violating the country’s restrictive dress code for women. After her arrest, Amini was allegedly “hit in the head with a baton” and her head “banged against” the side of the police vehicle, the UN Human Rights Office said. Amini then went into a coma and eventually died in hospital on September 16, sparking a nationwide outcry.
Protest-hit Iran says it is reviewing mandatory headscarf law (France 24)