Iranians outraged over new 7,000-member morality police network

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Iranians have takne to social media to blast the country’s new 7,000-strong network of morality police.

“Even KGB did not have 7,000 spies across the world,” a citizen tweeted.

Related: Saudi religious police ordered to be ‘kinder, gentler’, April 14, 2016

A policeman asks a woman wearing bright coloured clothes for her identification papers at a morals police checkpoint in Teheran. /Reuters
A policeman asks a woman wearing bright colored clothes for her identification papers at a morals police checkpoint in Teheran. /Reuters

Teheran’s police chief announced on April 18 that the new unit is tasked with reporting women for improper wearing of the hijab; ensuring a woman’s veil covers her in public as required; reporting anyone who harasses women; and reporting people who play loud music in their cars and violate traffic rules.

The 7,000 officers will look out for violations of the above offenses and text details of the incidents to the morality police to follow up. The subsequent warning could be verbal – or lead to arrests and fines.

It’s “meant to frighten people” said Facebook user “Mitra Mirzaee”. “They want to create the feeling that people are constantly being watched” and they also want to “increase distrust among people” and to occupy them with “some worthless things in order to prevent them from focusing on the major existing problems.”

“We wish they hired 700 people (10 percent of the 7,000) to fight against the widespread problems of corruption, bribery and smuggling,” said a post on the popular Facebook page “My Stealthy Freedom”. The page advocates an end to the compulsory hijab.

“Solve economic problems. People won’t have time for wandering around when they have jobs. No-one will steal or will be selling themselves into prostitution when they are not starving,” Facebook user “Navid Salimi” suggested.

One message of support for the new unit came from Facebook user “Kiyan Aylia”, who called on the morality police to “arrest these ladies without hijab and also their husbands because they are supporting them,” then “clean my Iran of these [people] by sending them in exile to the West. Let them enjoy their life there.”