Why Morality Police Patrol The Streets Of Iran

How would we react if there was a special police force wholly devoted making sure our clothing was morally correct? In the capital city of Iran, they do and it's called a morality police.

Most of us are used to getting the occasional parking ticket, or perhaps getting pulled over for speeding every now and then, but the citizens of Iran have had to get used to receiving tickets for a very different type of violation.

The morality police are a group of volunteers who patrol the streets of many Iranian cities looking for people who are violating what they believe to be "infractions of Islamic values." This could be a variety of things from being affection with a significant other in public who you are not married to, or possessing "obscene" material like certain media the state forbids you to watch. However, the main violation they're concerned with is dresscode, particularly for women.

Among many other violations, the morality police want to make sure all women are wearing a head covering or hijab. When the very conservative President Ahmadinejad was in office, and especially after the Islamist revolution, the morality police were out in full force on the streets of Iran. Now that the less conservative President Rouhani is in charge, they're not quite as much of a presence, but they're not gone completely either.

Women are still constantly observed to make sure their clothes aren't too tight-fitting, they don't show too much skin, they don't have painted nails, and most importantly, their heads are covered. Some think that the freedom to dress as you please is a very western tradition and does not hold value in an Islamic society, but most of the younger generation welcomes the opportunity for more freedom in how they dress. President Rouhani made a good point in support of Iranian women deciding not to cover their heads. "Before the revolution, many women in our society did not wear the hijab - were they not virtuous humans?"

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Read more about Iran's morality police:

The Guardian: Iran's Morality Police - patrolling the streets by stealth

NPR: My (Brief) Detention By Iran's Morality Police