Iran’s attorney general seemed to indicate that the country’s morality police might be a thing of the past, but then local reports indicated that rumors of the organization’s demise may be greatly exaggerated.
Attorney General Mohammad Jafar Montazeri spoke about the Guidance Patrol, which deals with issues such as dress code enforcement, during a religious conference, according to the BBC.
“The moral police had nothing to do with the judiciary and was shut down from where it was established,” Montazeri said, adding that the justice system “will monitor behavioral actions at the community level.”
Local media later claimed that Montazeri’s words were “misinterpreted”, the newspaper reported.
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Recent protests against the Islamic regime in Iran followed the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, who died in September after being beaten by morality police for not wearing the hijab.
Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian neither confirmed nor denied the rumors about the moral police when asked about Montazeri’s statement.
“In Iran, everything is going well within the framework of democracy and freedom,” he said, according to the BBC.
White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby spoke in general terms about the moral policing, saying on Monday that the White House “will let Tehran talk about their decisions regarding the moral policing.”
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Kirby noted that the United States has been “very clear about our position on the moral police and their role in violently repressing protesters and their role in Mahsa Amini’s death because we sanctioned them.”
An end to the morality police would indicate that Tehran is giving in to protesters to some extent, but Foreign Desk editor-in-chief Lisa Daftari says this is exactly the impression Iranian leaders want to give.
“Many woke up to the news that Iran was going to dismantle its so-called moral police and believed that shutting down this particular arm of the regime would and could bring about significant changes and reforms in Iran,” Daftari said. “This is what the regime wants people, including the West, to believe, which is why it would spread such a rumor.”
Daftari said that even if moral policing is indeed a thing of the past, this would not be enough to change things on the ground.
“The Iranian people will not settle for any reforms at this point,” he said. “They have proved to themselves and to the world that they are after regime change and will settle for nothing but that.”