Iran shuts morality police, says hijab law under review (updated)

TEHRAN, 4 Dec 2022:

Iran is disbanding its morality police after protests that have swept the Islamic nation entered their third month, the country’s prosecutor general has said.

“The morality police had nothing to do with the judiciary and have been shut down from where they were set up,” attorney general Mohamad Jafar Montazeri said at an event yesterrday.

The comment came after authorities said they would review the so-called hijab law, a decades-old rule that requires women in the Islamic nation to cover their heads, as protests in recent months have intensified after a young Kurdish woman died in police custody over allegedly not wearing a headscarf properly.

Mohamad Jafar said “both parliament and the judiciary are working” on the issue of whether the law needs changes, adding that the judiciary would continue to supervise behaviour at a community level and said women’s clothing continues to be very important, especially in the holy city of Qom, south of Tehran.

The city of Qom is one of the holiest cities in the Middle East and an international pilgrimage site.

Widespread protests have gripped Iran since Sept 16 when 22-year-old Mahsa Amini died in police custody – after being arrested by Iran’s morality police for allegedly not wearing her head scarf correctly.

The protests are carried out mainly by young people and women who chant anti-government slogans and burn veils in a symbolic act that would have been unthinkable not long ago.

Security forces are clamping down on protests violently and the authorities are rolling out internet blockades in an attempt to sever communications between protesters.

At least 448 people, including 51 children, have been killed in the police crackdown, according to the Oslo-based NGO Iran Human Rights.