This in turn raises the question of how much a human life is worth in Iran and how much it is worth to us here in Germany. The people of Iran are fighting for freedom and human rights – things that we in Europe are striving for. Wouldn’t we then owe it to them to act boldly against their oppressors with sanctions that really hurt the regime?
Iran reportedly wanted to abolish the vice squad in December 2022
That was surprising news on December 4, 2022: Iran wants to abolish the vice police “Gasht-e Ershad”. The infamous Guard was established in 2005 under then-Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. The man who made Iran even more theocratic than before and who frightened the world with his anti-Israel rhetoric, Holocaust denial and nuclear program.
The “Gasht-e Ershad” brigades, which incidentally consist of men and women loyal to the system, should therefore be disbanded. According to Iranian Prosecutor General Mohammad Jafar Montazeri, the moral guardians who dragged people into vans and practiced their own rights there were a thing of the past.
Sounds positive at first. Unfortunately, it’s not that simple.
Iranian Morality Police: That’s why eliminating them doesn’t mean freedom
It is a fact that Jina Mahsa Amini was taken into custody by the vice squad for not wearing her hijab properly. It is also a fact that Mahsa Amini died in this police custody on September 16, 2022 – and with her death triggered the protests in Iran that are still ongoing today. Protests that have gripped the whole of society, all genders, ages and regions of the country.
At a religious conference on the weekend of December 4, 2022, the Attorney General of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Mohammad Jafar Montazeri, said, according to several consistent international media reports: “The vice police have nothing to do with the judiciary and have been run by those who used them in the past have set up, closed.” And it is precisely in this statement that the first crux of the abolition is to be found: the moral police were implemented via the Iranian Ministry of the Interior, which is not subordinate to Montazeri in the separation of powers. The Islamic Republic of Iran does not implement the separation of powers in the same way as democracies do, because the religious leader and head of state, currently Ali Khamenei, has the greatest sole power.
Montazeri also announced in the Iranian parliament that he might want to change and adapt the headscarf law.
Why Abolishing Iran’s Morality Police Doesn’t Automatically Mean Freedom
For Montazeri to think aloud about abolishing the vice squad and revising the hijab law meant, and means, first and foremost – nothing. The morality police “Gasht-e Ershad” have existed since 2005, but the requirement for women to cover their bodies and wear headscarves has existed for over 40 years. According to the dpa news agency, the dress code is there to “save the country and the people from the western cultural invasion.” For over 40 years.