Four months after being elected Iran's President, Hassan Rouhani has ordered Iran to close its "morality police" forces, The Telegraph reports. The move is a latest in attempts to modernize and possibly to appease Western critics of the Islamic Republic.
The Gashte Ershad (Guidance Patrol), which has the power to arrest Iranian citizens over modes of dress, fraternizing between the sexes, and other religious modesty issues, has been a trademark of the Islamic Republic since its inception in 1979. But Brigadier Ismail Ahmadi-Moghaddam, the head of the Iranian police, said the issue of how women and men dressed was no longer a matter of law enforcement.
"The government has decided to hand over this issue to a social council which is currently organizing its manpower and objectives and we will continue being available in any capacity as they may require us." Brig Ahmadi-Moghaddam said.
The move follows a wave of reforms introduced by Rouhani, who is reported to be more moderate than his predecessors. Rouhani's main reforms until now have been on the international front; he has reignited diplomatic relations with Western countries, and has been a primary proponent of talks to negotiate a deal with Western powers in Geneva.
Nana reports that response to the move should be positive; the reduction, or cessation, of modesty squad activities was an integral part of Rouhani's electoral platform and is thought by some to be a primary motivation behind his election.