Morality Police Reappear to Target Islamic Women in Iran

( – Iran’s morality police have returned to the streets after a 10-month absence that began when nationwide protests erupted challenging the Islamic regime. The unrest started when police arrested 22-year-old Mahsa Amini last September for incorrectly wearing her hijab. This is a headscarf imposed upon women in Islamic theocracies. Amini died in police custody having suffered several blows to the head. In protest, women refused to wear the hijab, and many filmed themselves burning the garment.

Following months of anti-regime demonstrations, the government responded with a brutal crackdown killing hundreds and arresting 20,000 people. During the unrest, the morality police were rarely seen, leading some to speculate that the agency was disbanded. However, they have returned and promise to be tougher than before.

On July 16, representatives of the oppressive Islamic government reiterated the importance of the hijab and said the law will be vigorously enforced. Police spokesman Gen. Saeed Montazerolmahdi said morality police patrols will resume, and women will be arrested if they refuse to wear the head covering in public.

The hijab is one of a variety of garments imposed upon women in some Islamic countries. In Saudi Arabia, women are obliged to wear the niqab – a garment that covers the hair and face. In Afghanistan, females must wear the burka – an all-covering floor-length cloak that covers the head and leaves only a mesh for its wearers to see through.

The veiling or otherwise of women is often an indicator of the level of Islamic extremism in a society. Before the Islamic revolution of 1979, women in Iran wore Western dress, but when sharia law was introduced, veiling became a symbol of the transformation from freedom to theocracy.

In the West, Islamic veiling has led to extensive debate about its compatibility with Western society and women’s freedom. In France, the burka and niqab are banned. The European Court of Human Rights ruled the ban was legitimate because the garments were incompatible with French culture.

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