Iran’s morality police has been terrorizing women for decades. Who are they?


Amini’s story has put Iran’s disciplinary apparatus back in the spotlight, raising the issue of accountability and impunity of the country’s spiritual elite.

“It would be hard to find an average Iranian woman or an average family who has no story about interacting with [the morality police and re-education centers]said Tara Sepehri Far, senior researcher in the Middle East and North Africa division at Human Rights Watch. “That’s how present they are.”

The Morality Police is a law enforcement agency with access to power, weapons and detention centers, she said. They also control the recently established ‘re-education centers’.

The centers act as detention centers, where women – and sometimes men – are detained for not following the state’s rules of modesty. In the facilities, detainees are taught about Islam and the importance of the hijab (or headscarf), then are forced to sign a pledge to adhere to the state’s dress code before being released.

The first of these branches opened in 2019, said Hadi Ghaemi, executive director of the New York-based Center for Human Rights in Iran, adding that “since their inception, which is not based on any law, agents of these centers have been arbitrarily detained countless women on the pretext of not adhering to the state’s enforced hijab.”

“The women are then treated as criminals[s]booked for their offense, photographed and forced to take a class on how to wear a proper hijab and Islamic morals,” he added.

Iran dictated how women should dress long before the founding of today’s Islamic Republic. In 1936, the pro-Western ruler Reza Shah banned the wearing of veils and headscarves in an effort to modernize the country. Many women resist. Subsequently, the Islamic regime that overthrew the Shah’s Pahlavi dynasty made the hjiab mandatory in 1979, but the rule was not enacted into law until 1983.

A task force with all the powers of a law enforcement agency, the Morality Police is tasked with ensuring that the rules are followed.

Every few years, a number of anti-hijab movements arise in Iran, often leading to waves of arrests and prosecutions. These include the “Girls of Revolution Street” in 2017, as well as this year’s short social media protests on the country’s National Hijab and Chastity Day, which is held annually on July 12 to promote veil.
But disagreements have arisen over the issue of the mandatory hijab, both among citizens and within the leadership.

A survey by a parliament-affiliated research center in 2018 found that there has been a decline in the number of people who believe the government should enforce the headscarf. And a 2014 report from Iran’s Students’ News Agency showed a 15% increase in those who believe hijab should not be mandatory.

There has also been a rhetorical shift among the country’s leadership, calling for “education” and “correction” rather than the forceful implementation of Islamic values, said researcher Sepehri Far.

Some say Iran is slowly approaching a tipping point as the government faces mounting discontent over a crippled economy and skyrocketing inflation due to US sanctions.

Amini’s death seems to unite Iranians of different schools of thought, Sepehri Far says, adding that criticism of the incident has come not only from opponents of the regime, but also from civilians with no history of dissent, as well as those close to power. stand.

Thousands across Iran took to the streets on Tuesday night, according to witnesses and social media footage.
Videos on social media showed a woman cutting her hair in protest as the crowd chanted “death to the dictator” in southeastern Iran’s Kerman province. In other parts of the country, protesters chanted “We are the children of war, come on and fight, we will fight back” and “death to Khamenei”.

“This time, protesters are not just calling for justice for Mahsa Amini,” Ghaemi said. “They also call for women’s rights, for their civil and human rights, for a life without religious dictatorship.”

While there is a sense that the regime may feel vulnerable, some question whether the current movement will expand or simply weaken if the state is crushed.

Not only are these protests brutally crushed, [on] and contained every time, but there is no leadership,” said Tara Kangarlou, author of “The Heartbeat of Iran,” who grew up under the gaze of the morality police.

Growing up as a teenager, we would make sure to avoid[ed] streets where we knew the morality police vans would be parked [on] on the weekend,” said Kangarlou.

She says young Iranians have evolved within the ‘oppressive system’ to live their lives, but the ‘average Iranian is fed up’.

the summary

Tunisian counter-terrorism police arrest former leader

Tunisia’s counter-terrorism police has detained Ali Laarayedh, a former prime minister and senior official of the opposition Ennahda party, for a day after investigating allegations that jihadists had been sent to Syria, Reuters quoted lawyers as saying on Tuesday. In the same case, police also temporarily postponed a hearing for Tunisian opposition leader and speaker of the dissolved parliament, Rached Ghannouchi.

  • Background: Last month, several former security officials and two Ennahda members were arrested on charges of Tunisians traveling abroad for jihad. Security and official sources estimate that about 6,000 Tunisians have traveled to Syria and Iraq in the past decade to join jihadist groups, including ISIS. Many were killed there, while others escaped and returned to Tunisia.
  • Why it matters: Ennahda denies charges of terrorism, calling the charges a political attack on an enemy of President Kais Saied. Ghannouchi, 81, has accused Saied of an anti-democratic coup d’état since he seized most of the powers last summer, shutting down parliament and ruling by decree, powers he largely formalized with a new constitution ratified in a referendum in July .

Saudi Arabia buys pair of SpaceX astronaut seats

Saudi Arabia plans to launch two astronauts to the International Space Station aboard a space capsule from Elon Musk’s SpaceX ship, according to a Reuters report.
  • Background: People familiar with the arrangement told Reuters that the deal was privately signed earlier this year with Houston’s Axiom Space, which arranges private missions to US spacecraft for researchers and tourists. The Saudi astronauts will ride SpaceX’s Crew Dragon capsule to the space station early next year for a stay of about a week.
  • Why it matters: The Saudi astronauts will be the first in their country to travel into space in a private spacecraft. Saudi Arabia will also become the latest Gulf state to forge ties with private US space companies, which are gaining importance in diplomacy in an area long dominated by government agencies such as NASA.

Turkish, Israeli leaders hold first face-to-face meeting in 15 years

Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan met on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday, Lapid’s office said. The meeting marked the first face-to-face conversation between the top leaders of the two countries since 2008.

  • Background: “Yesterday I had a productive meeting with @RTEdogan,” tweeted lapid, “the first between the President of Türkiye and the Prime Minister of Israel in nearly 15 years.” Lapid added that relations between the two countries are “critical to regional stability” and that they bring “tangible benefits to both our countries”.
  • Why it matters: Relations between Israel and Turkey had been fraught for many years, mainly over the Palestinian cause. But of late, ties have warmed, and in August the countries said they would re-establish full diplomatic ties and reappoint their ambassadors.

what is trending

Egypt: #Salah

Egyptian football star Mo Salah’s tribute to Queen Elizabeth has sparked a heated debate among his compatriots on social media.

The Liverpool player tweeted a photo of the monarch on Monday with a message on the occasion of her passing: “My thoughts are with the Royal Family on this historic and emotional day.” Some of his Egyptian fans were less than enthusiastic, criticizing his condolences to the monarch of a country with a controversial colonial past.

Multiple users reply with pictures of the 1956 Suez Crisis, which took place four years after the Queen ascended the throne and invaded a joint Israeli-British-French Egypt to retake the Suez Canal after it was nationalized. Another user called on Salah to delve into the Queen’s history in the Arab world. “Brother, do you know what this woman’s empire has done to our country or shall I inform you,” he saidknew someone else.
However, other users jumped to Salah’s defense, saying the backlash was not justified. Egyptian sports journalist Omar Elbanouby tweeted: “Hands off Mohammed Salah…he is a professional footballer…not a political activist.”

Sudanese writer Mohammed Abo Zaco called out some of Salah’s critics for hypocrisy, pointing out that it was seemingly okay for Arabs to support British football clubs and drive British cars, but disrespect the Queen, who was buried on Monday.

European football clubs are immensely popular in the Arab world, some of which are owned by regional governments, including Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain. Salah lives in the United Kingdom.

By Mohammed Abdelbary

Tweet of the day

Tech entrepreneur Elon Musk said he plans to bring satellite internet services to Iran, where online access is severely restricted by the government. Musk tweeted that his company Starlink will seek waivers from sanctions to provide Internet services to Iranians. US sanctions prohibit companies from doing business in Iran. Western social media sites are blocked in Iran and the government regularly restricts internet access to prevent political mobilization.

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