Both Iranian state media and protesters reject reports of morality police closure

Iranian protesters stressed that demonstrations are about the regime as a whole, not just hijab.

Morality police take down the name of a detained woman during a crackdown on "social corruption" in north Tehran, June 18, 2008. (photo credit: REUTERS/STRINGER/FILE PHOTO)
Morality police take down the name of a detained woman during a crackdown on "social corruption" in north Tehran, June 18, 2008.
(photo credit: REUTERS/STRINGER/FILE PHOTO)

Both Iranian state media and anti-government protesters downplayed statements by an Iranian judicial official that the "morality police" had been abolished on Sunday.

During a meeting on Sunday, Iran's Attorney General Mohammad Jafar Montazeri stated in response to a question about the closure of the "morality police" (also known as the "Guidance Patrol") that "The guidance patrol has nothing to do with the judiciary, and it was closed from the same place it was established in the past."

Montazeri stressed that the judiciary continued to monitor "behavioral actions" at the community level and that hijab throughout Iran, especially in the city of Qom, is "one of the main concerns of the judiciary as well as society."

What are the 'morality police'?

The morality police, also known as the Guidance Patrol, were founded in 2005 under the administration of president Mahmoud Ahmadinijad and serve as a religious police, reporting directly to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei. 

The typical unit consists of a van with a mixed male and female crew that patrols or waits at busy public spaces to police behavior and dress considered improper.

A police motorcycle burns during a protest over the death of Mahsa Amini, a woman who died after being arrested by the Islamic republic's ''morality police'', in Tehran, Iran, September 19, 2022. (credit: WANA (WEST ASIA NEWS AGENCY) VIA REUTERS)A police motorcycle burns during a protest over the death of Mahsa Amini, a woman who died after being arrested by the Islamic republic's ''morality police'', in Tehran, Iran, September 19, 2022. (credit: WANA (WEST ASIA NEWS AGENCY) VIA REUTERS)

Iranian state media rejects reports on AG's statement

Al-Alam, an Arabic language news channel owned by Iranian state media, noted that no other Iranian officials had confirmed the closure of the Guidance Patrol.

"The maximum impression that can be taken from the words of Montazeri is that the guidance patrol has not been related to the judiciary since its establishment," wrote Al-Alam, rejecting what it called attempts by "foreign media" to present Montazeri's statements as withdrawal by Iranian officials concerning hijab.

Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian dodged a question concerning the reports about the Guidance Patrol on Sunday, telling reporters during a visit in Serbia "Everything is going well in Iran within the framework of democracy and freedom."

Iranian protesters stress demonstrations aren't just about hijab

Iranian protesters rejected the news as well, stressing that, even if it is confirmed, the protests are about the regime as a whole, not just hijab enforcement.

Iranian activist Masih Alinejad lamented that foreign media was "falling" for disinformation by the Iranian government, noting that similar reports were spread by Iranian officials during protests in 2017.

"The source of today's news turned out to be poorly researched. Why wasn’t there proper fact-checking? Why did the international community so readily consume this poor journalism? This was pure propaganda by the regime to calm the ongoing anti-regime uprisings."

"Iranians aren’t just asking for an end to morality police. They want to end this regime," added Alinejad.

The Black Reward hacktivist group, which has conducted a number of hacking operations and leaks in support of Iranian protesters, stated that "Thousands of crimes against humanity have been committed by the regime without the role of the morality police in Iran. The security apparatuses of the Islamic Republic are intense, everywhere, and continue to commit crimes against Iranian citizens."

The group called on foreign media to "not overhype these false announcements," stressing that the statements by the attorney general were likely an attempt to "divide protesters and deflect international pressure."

Nationwide protests continue in Iran

Iranian protesters planned nationwide demonstrations for Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, coinciding with Student Day, which commemorates the 1953 murder of three university students by police during the Pahlavi regime.

The three were killed after the Shah's police forces opened fire on students of the University of Tehran who were protesting the restoration of diplomatic ties with the United Kingdom.