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07/20/2023 Iran (International Christian Concern) – On July 16, Iran’s infamous morality police resurfaced for the first time since December 2022, reigniting the firestorm of protest from Iranian women and human rights and religious freedom activists. 

The morality police, or the Gasht-e-Ershad, is a branch of the Iranian police tasked with enforcing Islamic dress code, particularly the correct wearing of the hijab. Iranian clerical rulers have contended that the hijab is an essential part of Islamic culture and that refusing to wear it is a sign of corruption and Western decadence.

Earlier this year, government officials contended that wearing the hijab is an Islamic and family virtue, displaying banners with images of women in acceptable hijabs and emblazoned with the motto “Hijab is the legacy of mothers.” 

The death of Masha Amini at the hands of the morality police in 2022 forced the government to temporarily disband the morality police due to civil unrest, which they blamed on Western propaganda. Despite brutal government suppression, the protests continue, gaining traction on social media under the motto “Women, Life, Freedom.” 

However, despite continued protests, the morality police have been reinstated, with Mohammad Mousaviyan, the city prosecutor of Isfahan, announcing, “Based on the memorandum of understanding between the judiciary, the Revolutionary Guards, and the morality police of Isfahan province, teams will be formed to deal with the people who refuse to wear the hijab in public.”   

An Iranian police spokesman confirmed this statement, saying the morality police must 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.” Women viewed in breach of the hijab requirements can be arrested and sent to “reeducation facilities.”  

Businesses and trade unions are also at risk since, legally, they cannot hire or serve anyone not following Iran’s compulsory veiling laws. If they are non-compliant, they face high fines.   

Since these announcements, videos of the morality police have surfaced, with one showing a policeman saying to a woman, “Either you fix your hijab, or you enter the van. If you believe in freedom, I will leave all the thieves and rapists free to let you know how things work”. 

Religious persecution is an issue that all Iranians face, and they are now fighting against the Regime, which is enforcing radical Islam onto its citizens. Christians are facing pushback from officials who are monitoring their participation in these protests, making life increasingly more difficult than it already was for them.

This development has reignited the firestorm of protest, with many women, and even some men, taking to social media to demonstrate their non-compliance, resulting in violent governmental and societal repression. Recently, government agents threatened and attacked students at the University of Yazda after they accused the university’s disciplinary committee of hospitalizing a fellow student.   

However, the retaliation has only spurred on protestors, with one stating, “The number of people who do not obey is too high now. They cannot handle all of us, the last thing they can do is use violence and force against us. They cannot do it.” 

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