Washington, DC – The Iranian people were hurt and outraged when western media headlines on December 4 claimed Iran’s notorious morality police had been abolished. The reports suggested that this was a victory for the protesters. Speaking to ABC news, Iranian journalist Masih Aliejad said “It was a total, total lie, misinformation. A regime that killed more than 500 people, just in two months, including 62 children, arrested 18,000 protesters, and sentenced them to death penalty, suddenly comes up with the idea that we’re going to abolish morality police? Of course, it was a propaganda move by the Islamic Republic.”
The incident that sparked these headlines was an unclear remark made at a press conference by Iranian Attorney General Mohammad Jafar Montazeri, who does not oversee Iran’s morality police. He was asked why the Gasht-e-Ershad (morality police) has recently not been as prominently visible on the streets. Montazeri responded, “The morality police have nothing to do with the judiciary system. The same source that created it in the past — from that same source it has been shut down. Of course, the judiciary system will continue its surveillance of social behaviors across society.”
He clearly indicated that the morality police were not under the judiciary’s purview and also said that surveillance would continue. But western media overlooked those details and jumped at his statement, claiming it was a victory for the protesters.
After the press conference, Iran’s state media pushed back, saying the morality police is under the purview of the Ministry of Interior. Iranian state media also quoted Montazeri dismissing international media reports, and saying that no one in authority has abolished the morality police.
Alinejad said the regime is shaken and knows how to use misinformation to mislead the rest of the world or to calm down the protesters within the society, noting that around the same time, they shut down an entire amusement park in Iran because an employee was unveiled. “This is the true face of the Iranian regime. Girls from the age of seven, they cannot go to school if they don’t cover themselves. How come they’re [the regime] going to abolish the morality police? Are they going to allow girls to go to schools and universities Not at all. Compulsory hijab and morality police was not an issue for protesters. We want an end to the gender apartheid regime.”
It’s worth noting that in 2017, there were similar headlines about the morality police, saying that women will no longer be arrested for not wearing the hijab but sent to educational classes to reform their behavior. In 2018, 29 women were arrested for participating in the “White Wednesdays” campaign, where Iranian women protested the mandatory hijab law by removing their headscarves and waving them. Many of these women are still in prison today. Twenty-year-old Masah Amini’s death at the hands of the morality police in September 2022 triggered the protests that have gained in numbers and strength since then.
In a remarkable turn of events, Khamenei’s sister, Badri Khamenei, denounced the Islamic republic in a letter posted by her son Mahmoud Moradkhani on Twitter. She wrote, “Losing a child and being away from your child is a great sadness for every mother. Many mothers were bereaved during the last four decades. I think it is appropriate now to declare that I oppose my brother’s actions, and I express my sympathy with all mothers mourning the crimes of the Islamic Republic regime from the time of Khomeini to the current era of the despotic caliphate of Ali Khamenei.”
Badri Khamenei, whose daughter was arrested for participating in the protests, decried the violence and inhumane cruelty inflicted on the protesters. She said her family’s opposition and struggle against this criminal system began a few months after the revolution, and her husband, a critic of the regime, spent ten years in prison for his views. “The crimes of this system, the suppression of any dissenting voice, the imprisonment of the most educated and the most caring youth of this land, the most severe punishments, and the large-scale executions began from the very beginning. During the last twenty years, my daughter Farideh has endured all kinds of hardships and imprisonments with her civil and human rights activities, including supporting political prisoners and their families and trying to stop unjust executions. The letter states that she brought the people’s voice to the ears of her brother Ali Khamenei decades ago, but seeing that he refused to listen and continued suppressing and killing innocent people, she cut ties with him. She blames the regime of the Islamic Republic of Khomeini and Ali Khamenei for bringing suffering and oppression to Iran and its people. “The people of Iran deserve freedom and prosperity, and their uprising is legitimate and necessary to achieve their rights. I hope to see the victory of the people and the overthrow of this tyranny ruling Iran.” Calling on Ali Khamenei’s Revolutionary Guards and mercenaries to lay down their weapons and join the people before it is too late, she voiced solidarity with the people of Iran. She further accused her brother of being deaf to the voice of the people of Iran and only considering the voice of his mercenaries and money grabbers. “He rightly deserves the disrespectful and impudent words he uses to describe Iran’s oppressed but brave people. May the people’s rightful struggle to achieve freedom and democracy be realized as soon as possible.”
Unarmed people bravely face guns and bullets every day to protest the Islamic republic, but the fear amongst protesters is that the nuclear deal could help the regime’s survival. The people of Iran are now ready to have a country without the Islamic Republic, and they are calling upon western leaders to isolate it.
In scenes that would have been unimaginable in the past, people of Iran publicly celebrated the defeat of Iran in the World Cup and celebrated the victory of the United States.
Alinejad says that the protesters’ only demand is to remove the Islamic regime. It’s not enough if the Iranian government says women are allowed to remove hijab, and we’re going to abolish morality police, “Because we know that compulsory hijab is in the DNA of the Islamic republic. If they really end that, it’s going to be the end of this regime. But don’t forget that this is the 21st century. We deserve to have a secular, democratic country. We deserve to push back religion to people’s homes, and to have dignity, to have freedom. That’s why Iranians are furious when they see that in the West, people say it’s finally a victory. It’s not. Our victory is the day when the clerical regime is gone. It is happening. What we see right now in Iran is the end of the Islamic Republic.”