Vice police abolished in Iran? Mistrust

Vice police abolished in Iran? Not so fast. Many media, including 20 minutes, headlined Sunday on the abolition of this police force, which had arrested Mahsa Amini on September 13, accused of not wearing her headscarf correctly. The death of the young woman, three days later, sparked a wave of demonstrations, which are still taking place.

It is the Attorney General of Iran who reportedly announced the abolition of this police force. “The morality police have nothing to do with the judiciary, and it was abolished by those who created it,” said Mohammada Jafar Montazeri in the city of Qom.

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This quotation appeared on Saturday on the website of the Iranian news agency Isna, which says it relies on the public relations of the prosecutor’s office. The statement was said to have taken place during a conference on “the dimensions of hybrid warfare in recent unrest”, according to the agency.

This conference took place, it was held on December 1 in a seminary in the holy city of Qom. It had been announced online and it was possible to follow it remotely.

In the report of this conference, available on the seminar website, the Attorney General says the opposite of the remarks attributed to him on Saturday. “The justice system has never taken any action or planned to close this patrol,” he says of the morality police. 20 minutes had confirmation of the translation by two Persian-speaking sources. The Isna agency has also taken up this quote and this report in a first post Friday.

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No authority has yet confirmed or denied the removal of this font.

A “particularly violent, insulting” police

The morality police were created in 2007, but they existed in other forms before, reminds 20 minutes Azadeh Kian, professor of sociology at Paris Cité University and author of Women and Power in Islam*. This police “does not depend on the judiciary, but on the Ministry of the Interior”, she recalls.

It ensures “good respect for Islamic constraints in the public space, develops Mahnaz Shirali, sociologist and political scientist, author of Window on Iran, the cry of a gagged people. Women must hide their hair, not wear makeup, not wear bright colors, and boys must have an extremely simple haircut, they must not have T-shirts, sneakers. This force “is particularly violent, insulting,” she notes.

If this policy were to disappear soon, the wearing of the veil remains obligatory. “A law passed in 1983 is still in force,” recalls Azadeh Kian.

The removal of this police is not part of the demands of the demonstrators, recall these two specialists in Iran. These have a very wide demand, the end of the regime.

* Women and Power in Islam was published in 2019 by Michalon editions. Window on Iran, the cry of a gagged people was published in 2021 by Les Pérégrines editions.

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