Iran restores morality police patrols, worsens risk of further confrontation between authorities and protesters
Iranian women were dancing, singing and clapping along to the music at a cultural festival in Tehran earlier this month. They were also waving their headscarves in the air, an act equivalent to crossing a major line according to Iran’s interpretation of Islamic law.
The hijab is a compulsory element in the country’s strict dress code. Women who resist the regulations can face severe punishment, but several younger Iranians have lately been openly questioning the hijab rules. Things started turning sour for the regime on September 16.
Nationwide protests gripped Iran following the mysterious death of Mahsa Amini in police custody. The 22-year-old Kurdish Iranian woman was arrested last year for allegedly disobeying the hijab rules. A brutal crackdown on angry protesters left scores of people dead.
Patrols by the morality police had been put on hold since the demonstrations. But Iran has recently brought back the controversial patrols to its streets – a move likely to trigger further confrontations between authorities and protesters.
Confrontations have already occurred over the enforcement of the regulations. A video believed to have been filmed on July 16 showed multiple people in Rasht stopping the police from detaining a few girls for violating the dress code.
This month, the trial of 29-year-old human rights activist Sepideh Gholian did not take place as she refused to wear the headscarf in court. She was released earlier this year but was arrested again for shouting slogans against Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.