Mahsa Amini: Status of morality police unclear as Iran protests continue

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By Matthew Holroyd  with AP, Reuters
Iranians protests broke out after the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini.
Iranians protests broke out after the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini.   -   Copyright  AP Photo/Middle East Images, File

The status of Iran's morality police remains unclear after unconfirmed reports it had been shut down.

The controversial authority -- which has enforced the country's strict dress codes since 2005 -- has been a focus of recent anti-government protests.

Iran’s chief prosecutor had reportedly said on Saturday that the morality police “had been closed,” according to the semi-official news agency ISNA.

However, no further details were given and Iranian state media said the prosecutor was not responsible for overseeing the force. Euronews has been unable to verify the reports.

Since September, there has been a reported decline in the number of morality police officers across Iranian cities and an increase in women walking in public without headscarves, contrary to Iranian law.

But analysts have warned that reports about the morality police could be an attempt to appease the public and find a way to end the protests, without making real concessions.

NGOs say at least 470 people -- including 64 children -- have been killed in anti-government protests in Iran since the death of Mahsa Amini in mid-September.

The 22-year-old Kurdish-Iranian woman died three days after being held in custody by the morality police for allegedly violating the veiling laws.

Her death unleashed a wave of unrest that has grown into calls for the downfall of Iran’s clerical rulers. Young women continue to play a leading role in the protests, removing their mandatory Islamic headscarves.

According to Human Rights Activists in Iran, more than 18,000 people have also been arrested in the demonstrations amid a violent crackdown by security forces.

The 11-week protests are among the largest in Iran since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

On Sunday, Iranian lawmaker Nezamoddin Mousavi was quoted as saying that the government is "paying attention to the people’s real demands".

Mousavi told the ISNA that Iran's administration and parliament wanted to "achieve stability and confront the riots" with an economic solution.

His comments came after a closed meeting with several senior Iranian officials, including President Ebrahim Raisi.

Mousavi did not address reports that the morality police has been shut down.

Tehran continues to blame the unrest on hostile foreign powers, without providing evidence.

“Be sure that in Iran, within the framework of democracy and freedom, which very clearly exists in Iran, everything is going very well,” Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian during a visit to Belgrade, Serbia.