After protests in the fall: headscarves compulsory: Iran brings moral guards back to the streets

In Iran, the notorious guardians of public morals are returning to the streets to monitor the headscarf requirement.

After protests in the fall: headscarves compulsory: Iran brings moral guards back to the streets

In Iran, the notorious guardians of public morals are returning to the streets to monitor the headscarf requirement. Across the country, morality police units are once again to take action against violators with patrols on foot and in vehicles, the Isna news agency reported on Sunday, citing a police spokesman. In the past few months, many women in the country with almost 90 million inhabitants have ignored the Islamic dress code - also as a sign of silent protest.

After the demonstrations against the political and religious leaders last fall, the notorious units had disappeared from the streets of the big cities. In the meantime, the judiciary even indicated the dissolution of the morality police. The protests were triggered by the death of Iranian Kurdish woman Jina Mahsa Amini in September 2022. The young woman died in police custody after being arrested for violating dress codes.

The security apparatus then brutally suppressed the protests that ensued and executed seven demonstrators. Thousands were arrested. The leadership also had a draft law drawn up that Parliament is to vote on shortly. The law provides for new and harsh penalties for violations of the headscarf requirement - initially multiple warnings, for example by SMS. Fines, professional bans and, in extreme cases, even imprisonment are threatened.

Surveillance technology should be used primarily for control purposes. Photos published online showing women without headscarves are said to have consequences. Restaurants, museums or shopping arcades must expect closure if the obligation to cover the hair is violated there.

The law has been the subject of controversy for months and has been criticized from many quarters. Influential conservatives are calling for even harsher penalties. Islamic clothing rules are a religious duty and violations of them are not an offence. Politicians from the reform camp, on the other hand, called for easing in response to social upheaval.

Meanwhile, an actor has been arrested after criticizing the violent enforcement of the headscarf requirement. The actor Mohammed Sadeghi had published a video in which he criticized the violent crackdown on women who do not comply with the dress code.

For more than 40 years, headscarves have been compulsory in Iran as a result of the Islamic Revolution. Decades ago, numerous women demonstrated against it. The headscarf requirement is one of the ideological pillars of the Islamic Republic. This is one of the reasons why a relaxation or abolition is considered unlikely.

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