Prosecutor says Iran closed customs police and generates wave of denials

A statement by an Iranian prosecutor that the country would have abolished its customs police generated a wave of denials and skepticism this Sunday (4) in the Asian country.

The corporation has been at the center of a wave of national and worldwide outrage since the death of Mahsa Amini, a year old girl from the Kurdish city of Saqez who died in September in Tehran after being arrested and beaten by customs police for “inappropriate use” of the hijab, the Islamic headscarf. Since then, the country has experienced a wave of protests, violently repressed by the Iranian regime.

The Ministry of the Interior has not confirmed the statement by prosecutor Mohammad Jafar Montazeri that the customs police were closed, and Iranian state media reported that it was not his place to oversee the corporation.

Iranian Twitter users expressed skepticism about the prosecutor’s comment and claimed it was a smokescreen from the regime to disperse the protests, which would have the objective of generating a political and social opening in the country, not just abolishing the customs police.

In a series of publications on Twitter, the writer Arash Azizi detailed the prosecutor’s statement. “At a press conference, someone asked prosecutor Jafar Montazeri why the customs police were no longer present. Montazeri said the patrol was not a matter for the judiciary, but for the police, so ‘they created and closed it on their own,’” wrote Azizi.

Azizi highlighted, however, that despite the quick denial of the Iranian regime to the prosecutor’s assertion, the war of narratives indicates that there is some discussion within the government to relax hijab laws, “although it is very unlikely that [o líder supremo do Irã, Ali] Khamenei will make any concessions in this regard.”

Azizi added that Jalal Rashidi Koochi, a conservative MP and member of the Iranian Legislative Home Affairs Committee, said he had heard comments that the customs police “will have no place in the new plan being prepared by the Supreme Council of the Cultural Revolution”.

However, Azizi highlighted that the customs police is not a unit in itself, but a program carried out by the security forces based on the guidelines of the Cultural Revolution Council.

“Therefore, it is a practice that can be discontinued, but the police and the Judiciary can still resort to many other s measures to prosecute women who do not wear the hijab”, highlighted the writer.

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