Iran’s morality police, tasked with enforcing the Islamic dress code, are being disbanded, the country’s attorney general has said.
Mohammad Jafar Montazeri’s comments, which have yet to be confirmed by other agencies, were made in a news report on Sunday.
Otherwise, Iran has seen months of protests over the death of a young woman in custody.
Mahsa Amini was arrested by the morality police for violating the strict rules for covering the head.
Montazeri was at a religious conference when he was asked if the morality police were disbanding.
“The moral police had nothing to do with justice and it has been closed from where it was set up,” he said.
Even if the morality police is shut down, that doesn’t mean the decades-old law will change.
Women-led protests, labeled “riots” by authorities, have swept Iran since 22-year-old Amini died in custody on September 16, three days after she was arrested by Tehran’s morality police.
Her death was the catalyst for the unrest, but it also follows resentment over poverty, unemployment, inequality, injustice and corruption.
If confirmed, the removal of the morality police would be a “release”, but there is no guarantee it would be enough to stop the protests, which have seen demonstrators burn headscarves.
Iran has had various forms of “moral police” since the Islamic Revolution of 1979, but the latest version – officially known as Gasht-e Ershad – is currently the main agency charged with enforcing Iran’s Islamic code of conduct.
They began their patrols in 2006 to enforce the dress code, which also requires women to wear long dresses and bans shorts, ripped jeans and other clothes considered immodest.