No, Iran Has Not Abolished The Morality Police. Here is Why
Plus: Iranian women named Time's 2022 Heroes of the year, China's Xi Jinping visits Saudi Arabia, Saudi Arabia, UAE led mediation to release Griner, and more.
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No, Iran has not abolished the Morality Police
International media outlets reported early this week that Iran had abolished the morality police, months after the protests that sparked all across the country following the death of the 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, who died in police custody after being apprehended by the morality police allegedly for not wearing her hijab properly.
However, the situation is quite different from how it has been depicted.
During a meeting at which Iranian officials were discussing the protests, Iran's Attorney General Mohammad Jafar Montazeri was asked in a press conference on Saturday, December 3, whether the morality police would be disbanded.
Montazeri said: "Morality police have nothing to do with the judiciary. It was abolished from the same place it was launched. Of course, the judiciary will continue to monitor society's behavior."
Although his answer could lead us to think that the morality police was abolished, it created misinterpretation among international news agencies and media outlets.
Several reasons bring to the conclusion of a case of misinterpretation.
First, Montazeri is a high-ranking official in Iran's justice department. However, the morality police program is led by the Supreme Council of Cultural Revolution, established by Ayatollah Khomeini after the 1979 Islamic revolution and today headed by President Ebrahim Raisi, not the judiciary.
Furthermore, there was no official confirmation of the disbandment of the morality police, and Iranian state TV and other officials denied that the law enforcement would be closed, highlighting that the interior ministry oversees the force, not the judiciary.
Although the international news agencies translated Montazer's comments correctly, they misunderstood what Montazeri was actually saying, as he meant to state that the morality police have not been heavily involved in policing the protests.
The wearing of a hijab in public is currently mandatory for women in Iran under Islamic law since 1979, but the country's morality police enforced the rule in 1983.
The laws around the head covering sparked a nationwide protest movement after the death of Amini, who died in police custody after being apprehended by the morality police allegedly for not wearing her hijab properly.
Women of Iran named Time's 2022 Heroes of the Year
The women of Iran have been named Time magazine's Heroes of the Year this week for leading the mass protests over the death of Mahsa Amini in the custody of the country's morality police.
Time columnist Azadeh Moaveni acknowledged women's roles in past protests in Iran that have built toward this moment while highlighting the singularity of the current movement.
Iran conducts first known execution of prisoner arrested during protests
Iran carried out the first known execution of a prisoner arrested during months-long protests on Thursday morning, December 8, state media reported.
The prisoner, identified as Mohsen Shekari, was convicted of "waging war against God" on November 20 and sentenced to death by Tehran's Revolutionary Court.
Authorities accused him of repeatedly attacking a paramilitary guard with a knife and disturbing public order by blocking a thoroughfare in Iran's capital, Tehran, during a protest in late September.
The execution followed a three-day nationwide labor strike in support of the protests that were the country's largest in decades and raised the pressure on authorities to respond to the unrest that they appear unable, so far, to contain.
China's Xi Jinping visits Saudi Arabia to assert power and rival U.S. influence
China's leader, Xi Jinping, is visiting Saudi Arabia to showcase Beijing's ambitions to expand its influence in the Gulf, a region traditionally seen as a close U.S. security partner.
For Xi, who recently secured a third term in power, the trip is a chance to grow China's foothold in the Middle East and rival the United States.
China wants to export more of its technology and deepen its investments in areas like ports, mining, nuclear technology, and defense in the Middle East.
In fact, Saudi Arabia and China showcased deepening ties with a series of strategic deals on Thursday, December 8, including one with tech giant Huawei.
Joint UAE-Saudi statement says UAE president, Saudi crown prince led mediation to release Griner
The United Arab Emirates president and Saudi crown prince led mediation efforts that secured the release of U.S. basketball star Brittney Griner in a prisoner swap with Russia, a joint UAE-Saudi statement December 8ursday, December 8.
Griner arrived in the United Arab Emirates capital Abu Dhabi by private plane from Moscow after her release by Russian authorities as Russian citizen Viktor Bout, a former arms dealer, came in on another private plane from Washington after being released by U.S. authorities.
That's all for this week. Thanks for reading Inshallah. Share this article and subscribe to be up to date about news from the Middle East every week. It's free.
My name is Dario Sabaghi, a freelance journalist. I am interested in human rights and international news focusing on the MENA region.
Check out my work at dariosabaghi.com.
You can follow me on Twitter: @DarioSabaghi
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Cover photo: SkyNews