| 13 April 2024, Saturday |

Iran protesters call for strike, prosecutor says morality police shut down

Iranian protestors called for a three-day strike this week after the public prosecutor said that the morality police, whose detention of a young woman provoked months of demonstrations, had been shut down. This increased pressure on the administration.

Public Prosecutor Mohammad Jafar Montazeri was not in charge of running the unit, according to Iranian state media, but the Interior Ministry, which oversees the morality police, has not verified the shutdown.

Despite 11 weeks of demonstrations against the strict Islamic laws, senior Iranian officials have repeatedly stated that Tehran would not change the Islamic Republic’s mandatory hijab policy, which requires women to dress modestly and wear headscarves.

Hundreds of people have been killed in the unrest which erupted in September after the death in custody of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old Kurdish Iranian woman who was detained by the morality police for flouting the hijab rules.

Protesters seeking to maintain their challenge to Iran’s clerical rulers have called for a three-day economic strike and a rally to Tehran’s Azadi (Freedom) Square on Wednesday, according to individual posts shared on Twitter by accounts unverified by Reuters.

President Ebrahim Raisi is due to address students in Tehran on the same day to mark Student Day in Iran.

Similar calls for strike action and mass mobilization have in past weeks resulted in an escalation in the unrest which has swept the country – some of the biggest anti-government protests since Iran’s 1979 Islamic Revolution.

The activist HRANA news agency said 470 protesters had been killed as of Saturday, including 64 minors. It said 18,210 demonstrators were arrested and 61 members of the security forces were killed.

Iran’s Interior Ministry state security council said on Saturday the death toll was 200, according to the judiciary’s news agency Mizan.

Residents posting on social media and newspapers such as Shargh daily say there have been fewer sightings of the morality police on the streets in recent weeks as authorities apparently try to avoid provoking more protests.

The morality police were abolished, according to Montazeri, who was quoted as stating as much on Saturday by the unofficial Iranian Labour News Agency.

He was cited as adding, “The same authority that formed this police has shut it down.” He claimed that the judiciary, which “continues to monitor behavioral actions at the community level,” does not have authority over the morality police.

Foreign media were portraying his remarks as “a retreat by the Islamic Republic from its stance on hijab and religious morality as a result of the protests,” according to Al Alam state television, but all that could be inferred from his remarks was that the morality police were not directly connected to the judiciary.

  • Reuters