A member of the Iranian parliament’s national security committee acknowledges that the consequences of last year’s protests continue to impact the nation’s psychology.
Jalil Rahimi Jahanabadi further warned Iranian officials that exerting pressure on the people under these circumstances would be a mistake. He added that the people are already suffering from immense economic pressures and might not tolerate any further tension.
Recalling his own experience, Jahanabadi shared that during a shopping trip in Tehran, he witnessed a strikingly large number of morality police vans without any official emblem or logo, surrounded by a sizable number of policemen and women. He expressed concern over the overwhelming security presence, causing difficulties for people and vehicles to move around freely.
Jahanabadi stated, “I do not know who has planned and is steering this move, but I can tell you with absolute assurance that no other government in the world will do anything similar, as this will certainly distance the people from the government.”
According to the lawmaker, the Police Intelligence Chief mentioned that there are no vehicles marked as morality police in the streets, and the police only maintain an operational presence. However, Jahanabadi expressed his confusion about what “operational presence” actually entails and emphasized that whatever it is, it is a foolish act not in the state’s best interest.
He further asserted, “You cannot push people to embrace Islam by using force.” Jahanabadi highlighted that the government is aware of how people feel about the morality police, but no one in the government is willing to take responsibility for its presence in the streets.
Last September, the morality police arrested Mahsa Amini, a young Kurdish woman visiting the capital, Hours later she was transferred to hospital with fatal head wounds and died three days later. Her death in custody triggered several months of nationwide protests, which were marked by the brutality of security forces.
Last September Morality police arrested Mahdavi Amini, a young Kurdish woman visiting the capital and later reportedly murdered her at the Morality Police’s detention Center for not wearing the appropriate hijab. Mahsa’s death in custody triggered several months of nationwide protests in Iran that were marked by the brutality of security forces.
A report released by Amnesty International this week raised alarm over the Iranian authorities’ intensified crackdown on women and girls defying compulsory hijab.
“The organization has revealed the severe oppression faced by those who choose not to wear headscarves in public, with patrols enforcing the veiling and threatening legal action against those who defy it,” the report said, adding that “The situation has escalated further, with videos circulating on social media showing women being violently assaulted in Tehran and Rasht, while security forces have used teargas against people trying to help women escape arrests.”
Following the reports about the resurgence of the morality police to the streets, Agnès Callamard, Amnesty International’s Secretary General, commented, “Morality policing in Iran is back. The authorities are not fooling anyone by removing the insignia of the ‘morality’ police…, while emboldening the enforcers of the Islamic Republic’s oppression.”
Jahanabadi, who has been a vocal critic among lawmakers, urged the parliament to defend people’s privacy and security. He expressed concern that the behavior of the morality police will push people to leave Iran and distance them from religion. Additionally, he opined that the government’s crackdown on women who defy compulsory hijab is creating unnecessary tensions, akin to a government trying to overthrow itself.
Meanwhile responding to demands by hardline officials and clerics for harsher punishment for women who defy hijab, reformist cleric Mohammad Taghi Fazel Maybodi said, “A society that is mainly preoccupied with enforcing hijab, rather than tackling social and economic problems is no longer a healthy religious society as Iran’s leaders and hardliners claim.”
Maybodi added: “Those who try to impose the compulsory hijab on women are in fact advocating hypocrisy.” He further warned that the officials should take a closer look at the society to find out what is going on under its skin.
In another development, Yahya Ebrahimi, another Iranian lawmaker also warned the official about the tensions in the Iranian society and said: “The people have lost everything under economic pressures, and cases of crimes, drug abuse and divorce have been on the rise as a result while the situation is getting worse on a daily basis.”
Under such a circumstance, the Iranian government’s sole concern appears to be imposing the compulsory hijab rather than solving the economic and social problems. In its Wednesday’s statement, Amnesty International has called for the abolition of compulsory hijab, the quashing of all convictions and sentences related to defying veiling laws, and the unconditional release of all detainees. Furthermore, the organization urges the international community to take strong action, including legal pathways, to hold Iranian officials accountable for the human rights violations perpetrated against women and girls.