The operations of Iran’s “morality police” have effectively been suspended, a top official said, after months of widespread anti-government protests over the death of a young woman in its custody.
Officially called the Guidance Patrol, the police unit has for years stalked major intersections and thoroughfares in Iranian cities, arresting those it determined were flouting the Islamic Republic’s strict religious dress codes.
The patrols seemed to disappear from Tehran’s streets soon after nationwide protests erupted in mid-September over the death of Mahsa Amini, 22, who fell into a coma after being detained for her attire.
“The Guidance Patrol has nothing to do with the judiciary; it was suspended by the same institution that formed it in the past,” the semi-official Iranian Labour News Agency reported, citing Chief Public Prosecutor Mohammad Jafar Montazeri.
The comments, which don’t amount to an official dissolution of the unit, follow deadly unrest and protests that have challenged Iran’s theocratic leadership on a scale not seen since they took power after the 1979 Islamic Revolution.
Montazeri’s statement is unlikely to represent a major shift in policy and didn’t address protesters’ demands to scrap mandatory religious dress codes altogether, or deal with a broad list of grievances related to civil liberties, governance and the rule of law.