Iran’s morality police resume hijab patrols

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Iran’s controversial morality police are tasked with enforcing the country’s strict dress code (file photo)

Iran’s police are resuming controversial patrols to ensure women abide by dress codes and cover their hair in public, state media reports.

A spokesman for the “morality police” said on Sunday that the “morality police” will return to the streets to enforce hijab laws in Iran.

It comes 10 months after a young woman, Mohsa Amini, died in custody after being arrested in Tehran for allegedly violating a dress code.

Her death sparked massive national protests and patrols were halted.

But Islamist militants have been calling for the patrols to resume for some time.

Under Iranian law, which is based on the country’s interpretation of Sharia law, women must cover their hair with veils and wear long, loose clothing to hide their figures.

The morality police unit is tasked with ensuring that those rules are respected, and detaining people who are seen to be wearing “indecent” clothing.

Police spokesman Saeed Muntazer Al-Mahdi was quoted by the Tasnim news agency as saying that officers will first warn women who do not comply with the rules during patrols.

He added that if orders are disobeyed, the police may choose to “take legal action”.

Mahsa Amini, 22, was visiting the capital, Tehran, with her family last September when she was arrested by the morality police and accused of wearing a headscarf “indecently.”

It angered millions of Iranians – leading to months of violent anti-government protests across the country, which saw nearly 600 protesters killed, including many government executions.

In the months following the protests, many women stopped wearing headscarves altogether. This was the biggest open challenge to clerical rule in Iran since the 1979 revolution.

Videos posted on social media indicate that until recently, the sight of women not wearing hijabs was becoming more common.

But the Iranian authorities, in turn, have imposed tougher penalties, including forcing businesses to close if they do not comply with veiling laws.

Although the protests attracted large numbers of Iranians, some people still staunchly supported a strict dress code.

Iran has had various forms of “moral police” since the revolution. This latest edition, officially known as the Gasht-e Ershad, began its patrols in 2006.

It is unclear how many men and women work in the force, but they have access to weapons and detention centers, as well as so-called “re-education centres”.

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The BBC has outlined how the killing of Mahsa Amini sparked widespread unrest in Iran

Additional reporting by BBC Monitoring.

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