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Women join Iran’s ‘kindness’ group rescuing women from streets

  • Iran escalates internal conflict amid Israel assault
  • “Ambassadors of Kindness” enforce strict hijab laws
  • Rise in arrests signals crackdown on dissenting women

Concurrent with the commencement of its inaugural assault against Israel, Tehran escalated an internal conflict that received little attention.

Two women, each wearing a long black full hijab, approach another woman in Tehran’s Revolution Square. The latter is attired in jeans, a long-sleeved blouse, and a hijab, which is a head scarf.

One of the women in full hijab seizes her by the sleeve and draws her back, yanking her to the ground, as she attempts to depart. A white van carries her while she is encircled and enveloped in a blanket.

The scene is from one of the numerous videos that have been extensively shared on social media in recent weeks and depict instances of the most recent morality police crackdown in Iran.

However, this time around, an additional enforcement cell, which is also composed of women, is more openly cooperating with the regime.

Dozens of videos have been analyzed to illustrate incidents from the authorities’ renewed campaign against women who fail to wear the hijab correctly by the strict sharia law of the regime.

“I had intended to dispose of some of my longer garments prior to the onset of this new wave of attacks, as I find them uncomfortable,” said Leila, a twenty-something Iranian woman residing in Tehran.

Presently, I find myself donning those garments despite my strong aversion to them, as I believe it would not instill a sense of security for me to venture beyond my residence while dressed in something that could potentially result in my arrest or loss of life.

Ambassadors of benevolence

Notable in this recent surge of arrests is the increased presence of women cooperating with authorities while wearing the hijab, which Iranian leaders consider to be the most modest form of attire.

According to one expert, they are members of a new enforcement group known as “Ambassadors of Kindness” who have been designated by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) to assist in the enforcement of strict regulations and the silencing of dissent.

They have been dubbed “bats” by some teenage Iranians.

Recently, while walking down the street, Leila noticed the police and halted to conceal her hair. Following that, a woman in a full hijab approached her and advised her to “have faith in God rather than the police.”

She admitted that she fears someone who is dressed in a full headdress may be a member of law enforcement.

The IRGC has previously trained and enlisted women to assist them. However, according to Hadi Ghaemi, director of the Centre for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI) in New York, both the quantity and the tangible presence of morality police, white vans, and police cars—which are utilized in the apprehension of women in the street—have increased.

“Although they lack weaponry, their purpose is to intimidate women through the use of courteous and kind warnings. “If the woman refuses to listen, security forces are then dispatched,” Mr. Ghaemi explained.

What is truly alarming is how [authorities] advise citizens to turn against one another.

Conflict at home

As Iran initiated its inaugural assault against Israel, it escalated this clandestine conflict within its borders.

Three days before the launch of missiles toward Israel, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the paramount leader of Iran, issued a statement mandating that women, irrespective of their religious affiliations, adhere to the dress code within the Islamic Republic.

Then, on Saturday, April 13, Abbas Ali Mohammadi, the police director of Tehran, announced that individuals who disregarded previous warnings would be held liable in court.

Shortly after the publication of his statement, videos depicting white police vans patrolling the streets of Iranian cities went viral.

The Iranian government asserts that its Nour (Persian for ‘light’) campaign targets businesses and individuals who disobey the hijab law in response to the ire of devout citizens over the increasing number of women in public who are unveiled.

“The current level of brutality is extremely, extremely high,” said Iranian-American activist and journalist Masih Alinejad.

“They are this time more assured. You can see it in the expressions on their features and in the sheer quantity of them.”

At least six officers donning yellow vests are seen in one video to be apprehending a woman outside of a Tehran train station. After attempting to escape despite her resistance, she is led into a white van.

A second video, which was published on the same day that authorities declared their campaign, captures a swarm of white police vehicles, trailers, and uniformed men gathered in Valiasr Square, Tehran.

Females and children apprehended

Morality police vehicles had become scarce in Iran since the previous year when extensive demonstrations ensued throughout the nation following the detention of Mahsa Amini, a Kurdish-Iranian woman who was accused of wearing her hijab improperly.

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In addition to the draconian ‘hijab and chastity’ bill that is presently making its way through the country’s parliament, it appears that the police have returned in force. A cohort of scholars documented the installation of novel facial recognition software within a hostel building on campus.

Despite the decline in street demonstrations, opposition to the regime’s strict policies has persisted.

The Iranian government released footage that allegedly captured members of the public behaving impolitely toward morality police and lashing out at them.

Ms. Alinejad stated that this strategy has backfired: “That video is currently going viral due to the widespread admiration for the young women.”

A year ago, Mina, an additional Iranian woman, experienced a three-week car seizure due to the hijab she wore. However, she continues to be recalcitrant.

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