Iran’s state-run al-Alam news channel has denied media reports claiming the country’s morality police had been shut down.
Earlier on Sunday, several news outlets reported that the Islamic Republic had abolished its morality police which is tasked with enforcing the country’s strict dress codes.
The reports cited comments made by Iran’s attorney general Mohammad Jafar Montazeri at a religious conference on Saturday.
According to the semi-official ISNA news agency, Montazeri was asked by one attendee “why the morality police had been shut down,” to which Montazeri responded: “The morality police has nothing to do with the judiciary and it was closed by the same people that established it.”
“Though of course, the judiciary will continue to monitor social behaviors across society,” he added.
Al-Alam said: “No official in the Islamic Republic of Iran has confirmed the closure of the morality police.”
“Some foreign media have tried to characterize the attorney general’s statement as the Islamic Republic’s withdrawal from its hijab (laws) and influenced by the recent riots,” it added.
Protests – referred to by authorities as “riots” – have swept across Iran since September 16 when 22-year-old Iranian Kurdish woman Mahsa Amini died three days after collapsing in police custody. She had been detained by Tehran’s morality police for allegedly not complying with the regime’s strict hijab rules.
Demonstrators have been calling for the downfall of the regime in the protests which have become one of the boldest challenges to the Islamic Republic since its establishment in 1979.
Hijab, which was made mandatory for women in Iran shortly after the country’s 1979 revolution, is considered a red line for Iran’s theocratic rulers. Women who break the strict dress code risk being harassed and arrested by Iran’s morality police.
Based on the dress code, women are required to fully cover their hair in public and wear long, loose-fitting clothes.