Iran has introduced 2,000 new morality police units to crack down on what officials are calling "increasing defiance," referring to women protesting the mandatory wearing of hijabs.
In the past, I have written about some of the protests in Iran, such as this coverage from January 2018, which documented protests and unrest which at that point had left at least 20 people dead. More important to this story, though, is this post from later the same month. There I covered a trend developing where women were removing their hijabs and holding them aloft on sticks in public.
Now, in response to demonstrations like those linked above, Iran is launching “resistance groups for verbal and practical response to bad-hijabi women.” So far they are launching the groups in Gilan, a province in the northern part of the country, as a pilot program.
These 2,000 new units will be on the lookout for any women judged to be disregarding the country's conservative Islamic veiling laws.
As more and more women in Iran rebel against the rule of conservative Islamic clerics, there is also a growing movement being called "White Wednesday" which encourages women to wear white and remove their hijabs.
Cleric Rasoul Falahati, who represents Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei, spoke out against all women who condemned women who disobey the veiling laws.
“We do not wish to show a violent image of our religion, but models and promoters of vile fashions not only defy the hijab. But are nowadays appearing almost naked on our streets.”
Iran, which has been governed by a religiously conservative Islamic government since the 1979 Islamic Revolution, has been meeting with increasing resistance from the population, especially among younger demographics.
A recent study by Iran’s parliament showed that up to 70 percent of the female population would like to see the mandatory laws requiring women to wear headscarves lessened. The other 30 percent accepted it as part of the national culture.
As Iranian officials double-down with the additional morality police units, and try to ram conservative Islamic law down their people's throats, they are only further provoking more unrest. Whatever the outcome will be of this development, in the short-term it likely involves a lot more suffering for the people of Iran. The only certain thing is that the people, and especially the women, who continue to protest against conservative Islamic laws are incredibly brave. They really are risking their lives for their rights.