Anti-hijab protesters in Iran have called for a three-day strike in Tehran amid conflicting reports on the shutting down of morality policy. The current protests were triggered by the death of a 22-year-old after she was arrested by morality police for not wearing hijab properly.
Iranians protests the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini after she was detained by the morality police, in Tehran. (AP Photo/Middle East Images)
By India Today Web Desk: Iranians have called for a three-day strike amid conflicting reports that the regime has abolished the morality police months after 22-year-old Mahsa Amini’s death in custody fueled massive protests. Amini was arrested for wearing her hijab improperly.
The protests which have grown into one of the largest sustained challenges to the nation’s theocracy since the months after the 1979 Islamic Revolution, are refusing to die down even after reports on morality police shut down.
In what was perceived as a significant win for protesters, Iran’s prosecutor general Mohammad Jafar Montazeri announced that the morality police unit has been abolished.
However, there was no confirmation of the closure from the interior ministry, which is in charge of the morality police, and Iranian state media said Mohammad Jafar Montazeri was not responsible for overseeing the force.
As confusion prevailed over the status of morality policy whose main role was to enforce strict rules on how people, mostly women, dress and behave in public, an Iranian lawmaker said the government is “paying attention to the people’s real demands,” state media reported.
“Both the administration and parliament insisted that paying attention to the people’s demand that is mainly economic is the best way for achieving stability and confronting the riots,” lawmaker Nezamoddin Mousavi was quoted as saying by Iranian media. He did not address the reported closure of the morality policy.
MORALITY POLICE ABOLISHED?
According to the Associated Press, since the onset of protests, where women set their hijabs on fire, knocked turbans off Muslim clerics’ heads and shouted anti-government slogans, there has been a reported decline in the number of morality police officers across Iranian cities and an increase in women walking in public without headscarves, contrary to Iranian law.
The official who announced the shut down of morality police provided no further details about the future of the agency or if its closure was nationwide and permanent.
However, he said that Iran’s judiciary will “continue to monitor behavior at the community level.”
More than 18,000 people have been arrested in the protests and the violent security force crackdown that followed, according to Human Rights Activists in Iran, a group monitoring the demonstrations.
RALLY IN TEHRAN
Protesters have now called for a three-day strike and a rally in capital Tehran’s Azadi Square on Wednesday. Similar calls for strike action and mass mobilisation have in past weeks resulted in an escalation in the unrest.
IRAN IN VICIOUS CYCLE?
Rob Malley, the US special envoy on Iran, said that Iran’s leadership has locked itself into a “vicious cycle” with its crackdown on the protests, The Guardian reported.
HIJAB LAW REVIEW
Amid all this, Mohammad Jafar Montazeri has also said that it is reviewing a decades-old mandatory hijab law that requires women to cover their heads. The hijab headscarf became obligatory for all women in Iran in April 1983, four years after the Islamic Revolution that overthrew the US-backed monarchy.
It remains a highly sensitive issue in a country where conservatives insist it should be compulsory, while reformists want to leave it up to individual choice.