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Calls grow for Iran morality police to change course

In a rare move, Iranian newspapers today criticized the country’s morality police, tasked with ensuring respect for Islamic laws, after a viral video of a woman pleading for her daughter to be released.

The criticism emerged as public debate about the hijab, a required female head covering, resurfaced after local media reported measures that may indicate tighter controls.

Morality officers became a much less common sight after moderate president Hassan Rouhani came to power in 2013, but the force has had a renewed presence over the past weeks under his successor, ultraconservative Ebrahim Raisi.

The video, widely shared on social media in Iran, showed a woman standing in front of a green-striped white van of Tehran’s morality police — commonly known as Gasht-e Ershad, or “guidance patrol.” She screamed that her daughter, allegedly being carried away in the van, is ill.

The veiled women kept holding on to the vehicle, trying to stop it as it started moving slowly, before eventually being pulled aside. The van sped away.

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