Today, we will focus on the recent resurgence of the Guidance Patrols, also known as the Morality Police, in Iran.
The Guidance Patrols have a history of enforcing a strict dress code on women, namely the mandatory hijab, in Iran. Last year, in mid-September, the violent beating and subsequent death of a young woman sparked nationwide protests which beyond women’s demand for freedom of choice, called for the overthrow of the entire mullahs’ regime.
In response to the public’s angry reaction to Mahsa Amini’s death in Police custody, the regime withdrew the guidance patrols, and their vans vanished from the streets.
The first question is why did the Iranian regime relaunch the patrols on the 16th of July?
Really, why did the Iranian regime relaunch the patrols they are facing criticism even from their own people, warning against its consequences, specifically the outbreak of another nationwide uprising, as the economy is in shambles and the Iranian people have really nothing to lose.
One MP said, and I quote, “Whenever our sensitivities towards women’s hair and hijab are more than our sensitivity to embezzlement, child laborers, social ills, garbage scavengers, etc. rest assured that we are on the wrong path and the path of injustice.” He continued, “In circumstances when people have economic problems, they expect us to pay attention to their livelihood and control the inflation.”
Other MPs questioned the 43-year record of the guidance patrols, and their failure to impose the mandatory Hijab on women by force. Even some of the Friday prayer leaders criticized the patrol’s return.
But the Iranian regime finds it easier to assault defenseless women on the streets and distract people from the grave economic problems that more than 90 percent of the population are grappling with every second and hour. Especially these days, people around the country and even in the capital are suffering from water outages in the heat of summer.
To sum it up, the regime has relaunched the guidance patrols because it is weaker than at any other time during its rule.
In this part, we want to discuss the news of Iranian women’s resistance against the guidance patrols.
On the first day when the guidance patrols returned to the streets, there were reports of people confronting the patrols who harassed women for not wearing the Hijab.
In Rasht, the capital of the northern province of Gilan, a major confrontation broke out between the guidance patrols and plainclothes agents on the one hand and the public on the other. People chanted “Death to Khamenei,” the mullahs’ leader and the plainclothes agents used tear gas to disperse the crowd.
Another noteworthy incident happened at a gas station in Isfahan, central Iran, where other drivers went to the aid of a woman who received a warning from the so-called vice patrols promoting virtue. People attacked the patrols and helped the woman escape being arrested.
We haven’t received any news of significant clashes in the following days. It seems that the authorities have well understood that Iranian women are not afraid of their patrols and will stand up against them. Something that might spark another uprising.
So, we see the patrols on the streets but they just take films. Interestingly, the spokesman for State Security Force stressed that the Guidance patrol vans will not be back, but the ordinary police would be doing the warnings and making the arrests and they are called the Social Norms Police.
In the meantime, the government, namely Ebrahim Raisi, and the judiciary have denied their part in ordering the patrols’ return while the Security Force had initially announced that they had received emphatic orders from Raisi and the Judiciary to go ahead with the plan.
In addition, people know that last year’s intensified violence against women in the streets had been ordered by Raisi. And this year, too, no matter what the authorities say, everyone knows that the State Security Force is part of the Interior Ministry which is part of Raisi’s government.
This has become a popular joke making headlines in the press and media saying, let’s find the authorities who ordered the return of the patrols.
I think we should see these denials and retreats as further proof of the regime’s weakness.
And the last issue, cause we’re running out of time. Earlier this year, in March and April, we heard about a plethora of measures implemented to deal with women who remove their veils.
It’s good to review those measures since they apparently didn’t prove effective and led to the return of the Morality Police.
In March after the Nowruz holidays, the SSF Commander announced that they would resume surveillance of women who do not observe the mandatory Hijab. They obtained facial recognition technology from China and created much ado about identifying women with closed-circuit cameras and taking away their national social security cards.
They also ordered all employers and business owners to order their female employees to cover their hair, otherwise, their companies and businesses would be closed.
They also closed and sealed hundreds and hundreds of restaurants, shops, libraries, parks, and sightseeing places around the country for providing service to unveiled women. They ordered banks, hospitals, metro stations, airports, movie theatres, and other public services to refrain from providing services to women not covering their hair.
They also penalized women with heavy fines, imprisonment, flogging, dismissal from their jobs, and depriving them of various services, including the Internet.
They deprived university students of continuing their education and expelled them from school.
And the judiciary even handed down contemptible verdicts, forcing defiant residents, and movie stars, to do janitorial work, wash corpses in the mortuaries for one month, or visit a psychologist for six months to cure their “mental disorder. “
All this, however, failed to scare Iranian women and quell their passion for freedom and the public’s outrage against the regime in general. Actually, the removal of the mandatory Hijab is a form of opposition mocking the regime’s authority, and the mullahs very well understand it.