Iran’s Attorney General announced on Saturday that the country’s infamous morality police has been disbanded, saying that the institution has had nothing to do with the judiciary since its inception, Iran International reported.
The Attorney General Mohammad Jafar Montazeri stated that the mandatory hijab rules have not been lifted, that the judiciary would still continue to monitor people, but that special patrols in the streets have been disbanded.
The decision to disband the morality police came after two months of massive protests that followed the death of a 22-year-old Kurdish women who had been arrested by the morality police for disobeying hijab rules.
For anti-Islamic Republic protesters, this concession by the Iranian regime does not seem to be enough. According to social media accounts, protests will continue across the country until their demands for a free and independent judiciary, freedom of speech, free elections and fundamental economic and political reforms, and in particular repeal of the mandatory headscarf, are met.
The morality police were officially launched in 2006 under then-president Mahmud Ahmadinejad with the mission to “fight against inappropriate hijab”.
The struggle of Iranian women against the compulsory hijab goes back much further. Shortly after the establishment of the Islamic Republic in 1979, thousands of Iranian women took to the streets when it was announced by the first leader of the religious regime Ayatollah Khomeini that women could only enter their workplaces if they were wearing the compulsory headscarf. However, the women’s protests were violently suppressed by the security forces and the pro-regime forces who would later form the morality police.
Four years later, in April 1983, the hijab became compulsory for all women in Iran.
Montazeri announced on 1 December that the Parliament and the Supreme Council of the Cultural Revolution had met to discuss the compulsory hijab rules and that the results would be announced within two weeks. This announcement was interpreted by analysts as a sign that the mandatory hijab could be revoked.
Iran’s president, Ebrahim Raisi, said on Saturday that Iran’s republican and Islamic foundations are constitutionally sound, adding: “But there are methods of implementing the constitution that can be flexible.”