Confusion over future of morality police as women drop hijab

“We are fast-tracking the hijab issue and we are doing our best to come up with a thoughtful solution to this phenomenon that hurts everyone’s hearts,” he said, without giving details.


But late Sunday, Arabic-language state media al alam A report was published suggesting that Montazeri’s comments had been misinterpreted. According to reports, the religious police have no connection with the judiciary to which Montazeri belongs. It stressed that no officials had confirmed that the religious police had been closed.

It also pointed to Montazeri’s further statement that “the judiciary will continue to monitor behavioral responses at the community level”.

The hardline news site said the morality police were “not over and not shut down”.

But it added that “its mechanics may change, which was under discussion before the riots.”

The site is close to Basij, the formidable paramilitary force under the powerful Revolutionary Guards that works to protect Iran’s cleric-led system.

The status of the troops could not be confirmed. Officials avoided comment. When asked by reporters in Belgrade about Montazeri’s statement, Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabudorahian did not answer directly.

Despite this, the number of moral police in Iranian cities has been reduced for weeks.

Across Tehran, it has become common for women to walk the streets of the city without a headscarf, especially in wealthier districts — but also in more traditional neighbourhoods.

At times, faceless women walked past riot police and Basij forces.

Anti-government demonstrations show little sign of stopping despite a violent crackdown in which at least 471 people have been killed, according to human rights groups. More than 18,200 people have been arrested, according to Iranian human rights activists monitoring the demonstrations.

Protesters say they are tired of decades of social and political repression, including dress codes. Women played a leading role in the protests, removing their headscarves.

Ali Alfoneh, a senior fellow at the Washington-based Institute for the Arab Gulf States, said the informal relaxation of hijab laws may be current government policy.

“Currently, the Islamic Republic will not change the hijab law, but most likely will not enforce it in order to reduce tension with society,” ⁣ Alfoneh said.

Meanwhile, residents said security was stepped up at the Grand Bazaar on Monday, the first day of the strike.

The bazaar has seen two previous strikes in solidarity with the protesters. A shopkeeper who was open on Monday said he was warned by authorities not to join the strike after he closed during the previous strike.

Others said they simply couldn’t afford to join.

“While I support the protests, I cannot close my shop,” said the owner of a hijab shop, speaking on condition of anonymity for his safety.

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