Iran’s morality police have resumed patrolling the streets to force women to wear Islamic headscarves after pulling out in response to nationwide protests over the death of a 22-year-old woman in their custody.
Authorities had struggled to contain mass protests sparked by the death of Mahsa Amini in September. Protests largely died down earlier this year following a brutal crackdown in which more than 500 protesters were killed and nearly 20,000 detained.
Although the morality police were rarely seen patrolling the streets, authorities have insisted throughout the crisis that the rules have not changed. Iranian clerical leaders see the hijab as a key pillar of the Islamic revolution that brought them to power more than four decades ago.
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A police spokesperson said on Sunday the vice squad would resume notifying and then detaining women not wearing hijab in public. In Tehran, the men and women of the morality police could be seen patrolling the streets in marked vans.
The battle for the hijab became a powerful rallying cry last fall, with women playing a prominent role in the protests. The protests quickly turned into calls for the overthrow of Iran’s clerical leaders, whom the mostly young protesters accuse of being corrupt, repressive and out of touch. The Iranian government blamed the protests on a foreign conspiracy, without providing evidence.
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Several Iranian celebrities joined the protests, including prominent directors and actors from the country’s famous film industry. Several Iranian actresses have been arrested after appearing in public without the hijab or expressing support for the protests.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.