|Type||Religious police and vice squad|
|Parent department||Law Enforcement Command of the Islamic Republic of Iran|
The Guidance Patrol (Persian: گشت ارشاد, romanized: gašt-e eršâd) or morality police is a religious police and vice squad in the Law Enforcement Command of the Islamic Republic of Iran. The Guidance Patrol enforces Sharia—Islamic law—per laws in Iran; this is most often the enforcement of Islamic dress code, such as ensuring women in the country wear hijabs. The Guidance Patrol was formed in 2005 as a successor organisation to the older Islamic Revolution Committees.
In the 1980s, the Islamic Revolution Committees served the function of the Islamic religious police in Iran. In 2005, the Guidance Patrol became its successor organisation. The Guidance Patrol reports directly to the Supreme Leader of Iran.
According to Iran's Interior Minister, in a three-month period in 2014, 220,000 women were taken to police stations and signed statements in which they promised to wear hijabs. A further 19,000 were given hair-covering notices, and 9,000 were detained. In 2014, the police additionally gave warnings and guidance to 3.6 million other Iranians who failed to follow the Islamic dress code.
In 2015, in an eight-month period police in Tehran stopped 40,000 women driving in Tehran for not obeying Islamic rules of proper dress, and impounded the cars of most of them, generally for a week. In 2016, Tehran used 7,000 undercover Guidance Patrol officers to catch violators of the Islamic dress code.
Iran also banned the use of makeup by women, but many women resisted the ban, risking arrest.
Guidance patrols usually consist of a van with a male crew accompanied by chador-clad females who stand at busy public places (e.g., shopping centres, squares, and subway stations), to arrest women not wearing hijabs or not wearing them in accordance with government standards. According to Amnesty International, "girls as young as seven years old" are forced to wear the hijab. The United Nations Human Rights Office said young Iranian women were violently slapped in the face, beaten with batons, and pushed into police vans. The women are driven to a correctional facility or police station, lectured on how to dress, have their photos taken by the police and personal information recorded, required to destroy any "bad" clothing with scissors, and generally released to relatives the same day though many are detained. Under Article 683 of Iran's Islamic Penal Code, the penalty for a woman not wearing the hijab consists of imprisonment from 10 days to two months, and a fine of 50,000 to 500,000 Iranian rials. Violators may also be lashed, up to 74 times.
The Guidance Patrol also monitors immodest attire by men, "Western-style" haircuts worn by men, male-female fraternization, violations of restrictions on the wearing of makeup, and the wearing of bright colours, tight clothing, torn jeans, and short trousers. Violations include too much hair showing from under a headscarf, and a boyfriend and girlfriend taking a walk together.
Members of the public may turn one another in for perceived violations of the dress code, and traffic cameras are also used to identify violators of the dress code. Iran's CCTV camera systems, including those from cafes, universities, and kindergartens, transmit their footage to the police.
On 27 December 2017, Brigadier General Hossein Rahimi, head of the Greater Tehran police, said: "According to the commander of the NAJA, those who do not observe Islamic values and have negligence in this area will no longer be taken to detention centers, a legal case will not be made for them, and we will not send them to court; rather, education classes to reform their behavior will be offered."
On September 13, 2022, the Guidance Patrol arrested Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old Iranian woman, for allegedly wearing her hijab improperly, in a manner that allowed some of her hair to be visible under her hijab. She died in their custody; they claimed she suffered heart failure, and consequently died comatose two days later. Bruises on her legs and face suggested to many that she was beaten, despite police denials. Multiple medical officials and detainees that witnessed her arrest claim that Guidance Patrol officials tortured her in the back of a van before arriving at the station. Her abduction and subsequent murder inspired a wave of protests in Iran, including at Tehran University and at Kasra Hospital, where she died.
On 22 September 2022, during the Mahsa Amini protests, the United States Department of the Treasury announced sanctions against the Guidance Patrol as well as seven senior leaders of Iran's various security organisations, "for violence against protestors and the death of Mahsa Amini". These include Mohammad Rostami Cheshmeh Gachi, chief of Iran’s Morality Police, Haj Ahmad Mirzaei, head of the Tehran division of the Morality Police, and other Iranian security officials. The sanctions involve blocking any properties or interests in property within the jurisdiction of the U.S., and reporting them to the U.S. Treasury. Penalties would be imposed on any parties that facilitate transactions or services to the sanctioned entities.
On 26 September 2022, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau stated that the Government of Canada would impose sanctions on the Guidance Patrol, its leadership, and the officials responsible for the death of Mahsa Amini and the crackdown on protestors.
Religious differences of opinion
Some officials say that in their view the Guidance Patrol is a Islamic religious police, fulfilling the Islamic obligation to enjoin what is proper and forbid that which is improper, and is desired by the people. Others oppose the Guidance Patrol's existence on the grounds that the authorities should respect citizens' freedom and dignity, and enforce Iranian law but not enforce Islam. The Guidance Patrol has been called un-Islamic by some, mostly because performing the requisites is haram (forbidden) when it leads to sedition. Some argue the notion should be a mutual obligation, allowing people to instruct government officials, but in practise it is strictly limited to one side.
The Attorney General of Iran, Mohammad Jafar Montazeri, stated in Qom on 3 December 2022 that the police Guidance Patrol is not under the supervision of the judiciary system and was in the process of being disbanded. He also said that the hijab law is under review. However, as of 5 December the Iranian government had not made any official confirmation regarding the disbanding of the guidance patrol, and the Iranian state media denied its dissolution. It was reported that enforcement of the mandatory hijab and the guidance patrol had intensified, particularly in religious cities. In response, a three-day general strike was called by protestors, with shopkeepers closing their businesses; several experts and protestors alleged that the news of the dissolution had been announced by the Iranian government to overshadow coverage of the strike. Iranian state-run Arabic language channel Al Alam News Network denied any dissolution of the Guidance Patrol and added that "the maximum impression that can be taken" from Montazeri's comment is that the morality police and his branch of government, the judiciary, are unrelated.
- Ministry for the Propagation of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice (Afghanistan)
- Committee for the Propagation of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice (Gaza Strip)
- Committee for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice (Saudi Arabia)
- Iranian protests against compulsory hijab
- Homa Darabi, Iranian woman known for her self-immolation protesting the compulsory hijab
- Zahra Bani Yaghoub, Iranian woman who died in police custody after being arrested for an alleged breach of modesty laws
- Mahsa Amini, Kurdish Iranian woman who died in police custody after being arrested for an alleged breach of modesty laws, causing mass protests in the country
- Reza Zarei, former chief of Tehran Police in charge of the Guidance Patrol who was found in a house of prostitution, was arrested, and lost his post
- The Guidance Police does not have an official symbol, however the logo of the Law Enforcement Command is found and widely used on the vice squad vehicles and uniforms.
- Began operations in June 2006.
- Ghaedi, Monir (23 September 2022). "Iran's 'morality police:' What do they enforce?". DW.com. Retrieved 25 September 2022.
"Gasht-e-Ershad," which translates as "guidance patrols" and is widely known as the "morality police," is a unit of Iran's police forces tasked with enforcing the laws on Islamic dress code in public.
- Sharafedin, Bozorgmehr (20 April 2016). "Rouhani clashes with Iranian police over undercover hijab agents". Reuters. Retrieved 12 August 2016. It was rumored to be dissolved in December 2022 after three months of continuous protest over women's rights in Iran, although this false information was spread by the Islamic Regime of Iran as a tactic to stop the uprising.
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- "Treasury Sanctions Iran's Morality Police and Senior Security Officials for Violence Against Protesters and the Death of Mahsa Amini". United States Department of the Treasury. 22 September 2022.
- "Designating Iran's Morality Police and Seven Officials for Human Rights Abuses in Iran". United States Department of State. 22 September 2022.
- "Canada To Sanction Those Responsible For Iranian Woman's Death". 26 September 2022.
- Adib, Muhammad Jawad (26 September 2013). "Iran's 'Guidance Patrols' Stir Controversy". Al-Monitor. Retrieved 12 August 2016.
- Faghihi, Rohollah (6 May 2016). "Morality police go undercover to keep Tehran under cover". Middle East Eye. Retrieved 12 August 2016.
- Karami, Arash (27 April 2015). "Rouhani: Police should not enforce Islam". Al-Monitor. Retrieved 12 August 2016.
- "Iran to disband morality police amid ongoing protests, says attorney general". BBC News. 4 December 2022. Retrieved 4 December 2022.
- "Protest-Hit Iran Reviewing Mandatory Headscarf Law, Official Says". Voice of America. 3 December 2022.
- "Protest-Hit Iran says reviewing mandatory headscarf law". France24. 3 December 2022.
- "Iran's hijab law under review: attorney general". Al-Monitor. 3 December 2022.
- "Prosecutor General of the country: Guidance patrol was closed | it was closed from the place it was established]". asriran.com. 3 December 2022.
- Turak, Natasha (5 December 2022). "Iran's state media denies abolition of 'morality police' as three-day strike begins". CNBC.
- "Iran: mass strike starts amid mixed messages about abolishing morality police". the Guardian. 5 December 2022. Retrieved 6 December 2022.
- Reuters (5 December 2022). "Iranian city shops shut after strike call, judiciary blames 'rioters'". Reuters. Retrieved 6 December 2022 – via www.reuters.com.
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Media related to Guidance Patrol at Wikimedia Commons
- Travis Beard (April 1, 2008). "Hair Police; It’s only recently that Iranian men have become the target of ultraconservative, style-cramping campaigns," Vice.
- "Who are Iran’s hated morality police?; They are a recent innovation, not a core tenet of Islam," The Economist, September 26, 2022.
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