Iran’s morality police: patrolling the streets by stealth -The Guardian

Here is an interesting piece on the morality police in Iran, and how their influence has changed since Rouhani was elected. Two points stick out. First, according to this article women are less intimidated than they have been in the past:
“Before we used to get scared, but now it’s a routine affair for us,” she says of being arrested. It’s nothing like the early days of the revolution when neighborhood vigilantes would torment those they deemed immodest under a selective interpretation of the Islamic principle of “commanding the good and forbidding the evil.” Today, Zahra says, “they just snap a few pictures [of the arrestees] and let them go” after calling in a relative to bring a change of [more “modest”] clothes.

Second, informal social taboos and norms remain powerful, particularly in the poorer, less western southern part of Tehran:
“But what the government can’t control is effortlessly kept in check by social forces, as has always been the case in Iran. In other words, Maryam won’t dare wear the outfit she’s wearing in front of me – nor would Zahra – in Rah-Ahan Square in south Tehran, which is almost entirely devoid of morality police unlike the affluent north. “We could never go walking looking like this in Rah-Ahan,” Zahra says. “Sure, there’s no morality police—but it’s the people.”
The quieter Saeedeh, a college student, speaks up. Even if the mandatory hijab is removed one day she says, “you still won’t be able to wear shorts near Rah-Ahan Square” in south Tehran.”

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