Iran Disbands Morality Police, Considers Changing Hijab Laws, Official Says

Move is aimed at trying to quiet protests that have taken place across the country, analysts say

Iran’s attorney general said the country had disbanded its so-called morality police and is considering altering the requirement that women cover their heads in public, a move that analysts said was aimed at peeling away support for antigovernment protests.

Mohammad-Jafar Montazeri outlined the steps Saturday, saying the law requiring veils, known as hijabs, was under review by Iran’s Parliament and judiciary, and that the morality police had been abolished, according to government-run news agencies.

President Ebrahim Raisi echoed his remarks in a televised speech Saturday, saying Iran’s Islamic system was enshrined in its constitution but adding, “There are methods of implementing the constitution that can be flexible.”

Protests continued in Mahabad and Bukan, cities in Iran’s Kurdish region, with fires and road blockades, according to Hengaw, a Kurdish human-rights group based in Norway.

It is unclear if Mr. Montazeri’s comments reflect a high-level decision by Iran’s rulers to make significant changes in the system of enforcing the hijab law or if they are temporary overtures aimed at helping to suppress the protests, analysts said.

Atena Daemi, a civil-rights activist in Tehran, said the morality police have been less visible in enforcing the hijab law since the protests began. She added that if the protests died down the government was likely to resume using the police or create another mechanism to pressure women to publicly cover their heads.

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Iran, protests, veil