Tehran (AFP), September 20 – The death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini after her arrest by Iran’s “morals police” has not only sparked protests in the country, but also rare outspoken criticism from senior officials.
Public anger has grown since authorities announced Amini’s death on Friday following her arrest by the police unit tasked with enforcing Iran’s strict dress code for women, including wearing headscarves covering their hair in public.
Amid growing controversy over the conduct of the morality police, officially known as the Gasht-e Ershad or “Guidance Patrol”, Speaker of Parliament Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf said on Tuesday that the conduct of the police unit should be investigated.
“In order to avoid the repetition of such cases, the processes and method of implementation in orientation patrols…should be studied,” he said, as quoted by state news agency IRNA. .
The state-affiliated Organization for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, established to encourage good behavior and ban immoral activities, said the police unit should not arrest people for violating dress rules.
“The outlook on this issue should change,” the influential organization said in a statement, stressing that it opposes “the arrest and trial of ordinary people” for clothing offences.
“The criminalization of those who do not wear headscarves and the arrest, filing and prosecution of people who will only cause social tension…should be amended in law,” he added. .
Amini’s death caused international consternation, including from the United Nations.
The United States criticized his death and the way security forces handled the protests that followed.
Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian on Tuesday dismissed the criticism and said an investigation had been ordered into the “tragic death of Mahsa”, which he said, quoting President Ebrahim Raisi, “was like our own daughters”.
– “Illegal, irrational and illegitimate” –
Inside Iran, and following protests in the capital Tehran and a number of other provinces, lawmakers have also raised their voices.
Jalal Rashidi Koochi, an MP, told ISNA news agency that the police unit was a “mistake” as it only resulted in “losses and damages” for Iran.
Another lawmaker, Moeenoddin Saeedi, said the unit “should be abolished” and shut down, ILNA news agency reported.
The clerics also spoke.
Ayatollah Asadollah Bayat Zanjani, a senior religious figure whose advice many follow, on Saturday criticized the events that led to Amini’s death.
“All of the behaviors and events that caused this unfortunate and regrettable incident are illegal, irrational and illegitimate,” the cleric said in a statement.
In the streets, the demonstrators expressed their anger.
On Sunday, police made arrests and fired tear gas in Kurdistan’s home province of Amini, where some 500 people had protested, smashing car windows and setting trash cans on fire, according to reports.
On Monday, several hundred protesters in Tehran, including some women who removed their headscarves, were dispersed by “police using truncheons and tear gas”, according to the Fars news agency.
Tehran Governor Mohsen Mansouri said on Tuesday that the protests in the capital were “entirely staged with the aim of creating unrest”, in a post on Twitter.
“Burning the flag, pouring fuel on the roads, throwing stones, attacking the police, setting fire to motorbikes and garbage cans, destroying public property… is not the job of ordinary people,” he said. declared.
Meanwhile, the Supreme Leader’s representative Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in Kurdistan Province visited Mahsa’s family at their home, Tasnim news agency reported on Tuesday.
“I assured the family (…) that all institutions will take action to defend Miss Amini’s violated rights and that none of their rights will be ignored,” Abdolreza Pourzahbi said.