Is the protest that has been agitating Iran for months now bearing fruit? After months of mobilization in Tehran and in several major cities of the country, the power announced the abolition of the morality police, whose role is singled out in the death of the young Mahsa Amini.
This unit “has nothing to do with the judiciary, and it has been abolished by those who created it,” Iranian Attorney General Mohammad Jafar argued on Saturday evening. However, the terms of its abolition have not been clarified. The disbandment of the patrol has yet to be confirmed by other Iranian officials. The checks related to the dress code of the Islamic Republic which the agents are responsible for could then continue.
The “Islamic Guidance Patrol” was behind the arrest of Mahsa Amini, the 22-year-old Iranian Kurd whose death three days later sparked a vast protest movement across the country. According to activists and her family, the young woman died after being beaten, but the authorities linked her death to health problems, denied by her parents.
Three months later, the dissolution of this police would illustrate “the fragility of the regime”, analyzes for Le Parisien the sociologist and author of the book “Window on Iran: The cry of a gagged people”, Mahnaz Shirali, who insists on the fact that this deletion has yet to be confirmed.
“The demonstrators are already bending the regime”
“Despite the arrests and the violence they suffer, the demonstrators are in the process of making the regime bend. The Iranians, armed only with their anger, show themselves to be stronger than the Islamic Republic, which nevertheless continues to repress them with cruelty”, underlines the specialist in Iran.
Established during the Islamic Revolution of 1979, the morality police were created to “spread the culture of decency and the hijab”. In other words, to ensure compliance with the dress code of the Islamic Republic, in particular imposing the wearing of the veil for women. Made up of men in green uniforms and women wearing black chadors, this section patrols the streets, scrutinizing outfits and making arbitrary arrests.
Protesters “demand the departure of the regime”
Already at the time, “this police inspired a terrible fear. It was made up of extremely aggressive people, ”adds Mahnaz Shirali. “The women were regularly arrested and sentenced to whipping, because the authorities considered that their veil was not in conformity”. The role of this patrol has evolved over the years but has always drawn its share of condemnations, including from NGOs.
Last July, the ultra-conservative at the head of the country, Ebrahim Raïssi, had called for the mobilization of “all the institutions to strengthen the law on the veil”. The zeal of the authorities had increased, with an increase in the number of checks and arrests. In September, the death of Mahsa Amini, accused of not having respected “good morals”, opened a breach, triggering a wave of demonstrations carried by women shouting their thirst for freedom. Proof that the regime is shaking, the power had again let it be known on Friday that the authorities were working on the issue of the compulsory wearing of the veil.
The rigidity of an ultra-conservative power now comes up against the desire for modernity of the younger generations. And if the abolition of a patrol so decried “would mark a step”, it would not be enough to attenuate the revolt of a youth in the fight against state authoritarianism, judge Mahnaz Shirali. “The demands of Iranian society go further. It does not only demand the abolition of a police force or that of the wearing of the veil, but the departure of an entire regime, ”insists Mahnaz Shirali, for whom the demonstrations should continue.