Iran’s morality police have resumed patrols to enforce the country’s mandatory dress code requiring women to wear headscarves.
Saeid Montazeralmahdi, the spokesman for Iran’s enforcement body, said on-foot and vehicle patrols are to be carried out across the country, according to the state-run Fars News Agency.
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The move came after a 10-month hiatus following nationwide protests that erupted in September 2022 following the death of a 22-year-old woman in police custody after being arrested by the morality police.
More than 200 people, including security personnel, were killed in the months-long unrest that followed Mahsa Amini’s death, according to government officials. Human rights groups, however, place the number above 500.
At least seven people have been executed for involvement in the protests that continued until January. Many more continue to sit on death row amid growing calls for a reprieve.
On Sunday, police spokesman Saeed Montazerolmahdi confirmed that morality police patrols had resumed across the country to “deal with those who, unfortunately, ignore the consequences of not wearing the proper hijab and insist on disobeying the norms”.
“If they disobey the orders of the police force, legal action will be taken, and they will be referred to the judicial system,” he added.
However, a university student identified only as Ismaili expressed doubt that the officers would be able to impose the dress code as they had before Mahsa Amini’s death.
“The number of people who do not obey is too high now,” she told Reuters news agency. “They cannot handle all of us, the last thing they can do is use violence and force against us. They cannot do it.”
The reformist newspaper Hammihan warned that the resumption of patrols could “cause chaos” in society, while reformist politician Azar Mansouri said it showed the “gap between the people and the state is widening”.
Iranians also took to social media to condemn the move as well as the arrest on Sunday of an actor, Mohammad Sadeqi, after he urged women to defend themselves when accosted by morality police.
Mr Sadeqi claimed in an Instagram post that the state had “declared a war” on them and advised women to carry “machetes” to fight back. “Trust me, people will kill you,” he warned officers.