Iran to disband morality police amid ongoing protests, says attorney general

Iran’s morality police, which is tasked with enforcing the country’s Islamic dress code, is being disbanded, the country’s attorney general says. 

Mohammad Jafar Montazeri’s comments, yet to be confirmed by other agencies, were made at an event on Sunday. Iran has seen months of protests over the death of Mahsa Amini while in custody for allegedly breaking strict rules on head coverings.

“The morality police had nothing to do with the judiciary and have been shut down from where they were set up,” he said. Control of the force lies with the interior ministry and not with the judiciary.  Mr Montazeri also told the Iranian parliament the law that requires women to wear hijabs would be looked at.

If confirmed, the scrapping of the morality police would be a concession but there are no guarantees it would be enough to halt the protests, which have seen demonstrators burn their head coverings. “Just because the government has decided to dismantle morality police it doesn’t mean the protests are ending,” one Iranian woman told the BBC World Service’s Newshour program. A revolution is what we have. Hijab was the start of it and we don’t want anything, anything less, but death for the dictator and a regime change.”

Iran has had various forms of “morality police” since the 1979 Islamic Revolution, but the latest version – known formally as the Gasht-e Ershad – is currently the main agency tasked enforcing Iran’s Islamic code of conduct. They began their patrols in 2006 to enforce the dress code which also requires women to wear long clothes and forbids shorts, ripped jeans and other clothes deemed immodest.

A protester holds a picture of Mahsa Amini during protests in Turkey last month

In other news, The family villa of Elnaz Rekabi – an Iranian climber who competed abroad with her hair uncovered – has reportedly been demolished. Ms Rekabi, 33, broke Iran’s mandatory dress code at the contest in South Korea – but later said her headscarf had fallen off “inadvertently”. The BBC was told her apology was forced.

Opposition to the headscarf has fuelled protests that have swept Iran, with the climber being hailed as a hero. A video showing the ruins of a house with sports medals on the ground started circulating this week.  Davood – Elnaz Rekabi’s brother and also a top athlete – is seen crying in the video. Anti-government activists denounced it as an act of revenge against Ms Rekabi – although it is not clear when the footage was shot. Now, the semi-official Tasnim news agency has confirmed that the house has been demolished, but says this was due to the family not having a valid permit for its construction. It said all this took place before Ms Rekabi competed without a headscarf in October.

The BBC. And the BBC (Rekabi)

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