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Police In Iran Complain Of Lacking Manpower To Enforce Hijab Rules

Iran's patrols for Islamic guidance and hijab, undated.File photo
Iran's patrols for Islamic guidance and hijab, undated.File photo

The deputy commander of the Islamic Republic's law enforcement has complained that his forces are "really left single-handed" in policing "moral security" of the Iranian society.

Meanwhile, Isfahan's governor has announced that he intends to award a residential unit to officers and volunteers in charge of "promotion of virtue and prevention of vice."

The term, also known as "enjoining good and forbidding wrong," is a Quranic expression calling the faithful to propagate good deeds and condemn wrong-doing. However, the Quranic term does not say people have the right to "enforce" the recommendation.

The Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC)-run Tasnim news agency cited the Deputy Commander of Iranian police Brigadier General Qassem Rezaei as saying on Thursday, July 30, the law enforcement forces have been left alone in maintaining moral security of the society.

This claim can be disputed, since many so-called volunteers stop women in the streets and shame them to cover themselves more fully. The state has allowed “pious” Muslims to enforce its dress code. On the other hand, so many women flout the rules that perhaps the existing manpower is not enough to enforce hijab rules.

In a meeting with the representative of the Islamic Republic's Supreme Leader, General Rezaei lambasted other state bodies for not cooperating with the police on that matter, adding, "Nobody is helping the police, save volunteers and the members of Baseej,” (Basij - the IRGC's militia).

Since the downfall of the pro-West Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi in 1979, the Islamic Republic has been struggling to force Iranian women to respect what it calls "Islamic dress code."

While Iranian women were free to choose to wear a hijab during the Shah's reign, the Islamic Republic has done its utmost to force them to relent to compulsory hijab. To achieve this this, it has established select units to enforce compulsory hijab and other "Islamic ethics."

The Gasht-e Ershad forces (literally the Guidance Patrol) are currently the principal agency tasked enforcing Iran's Islamic code of conduct in public.

Nevertheless, on many occasions there have been clashes between the patrol officers and the people defending women accused of having a "loose hijab."

In February last year, a group of Iranians attacked a morality police van in Tehran after the Guidance patrol agents detained two young girls for not “properly” covering their heads, local news outlets reported.

The Islamic Republic government's official news agency, IRNA, reported on February 15, 2019, "Officers fired shots in the air to disperse the crowd who tore off one of the patrol's van doors.”

The group prevented the officers from driving the women away, IRNA added citing an unnamed law enforcement official. According to the police source, the standoff ended when the girls were released from the van.

Video of the incident showed people honking their car horns in apparent protest. A man is heard shouting, "Let them go!" as a group of people surrounds the van. The sound of gunshots is then heard.

Meanwhile, the Governor of Isfahan, Abbas Rezaei, has announced that he intends to present 24 residential units to those in charge of "enjoining good and forbidding wrong," provided they did not already own a house.

This will simply encourage individuals to harass women on the streets and report on them to perhaps qualify for a free house.

Out of choice or reluctance, all Iranian women wear hijab by law. Still, many resent the regulations related to completely they cover their heads and bodies. For the past four decades, Iranian women have been struggling to assert their freedom regarding hijab.

"It's not only a question of wearing a headscarf. The question is also thousands of overt and undercover morality-police forces who ambush everywhere to catch you if your scarf is a little bit slipped away from your hairline," said a young lady from Tehran.