Iranians have been in uproar over a video showing the country’s morality police assaulting a young woman for not wearing her hijab properly. Since the video was posted on April 18, many have taken to social media to denounce the police, who they say went too far.
The footage, which is about two minutes long, shows a young woman, wearing a red headscarf, in a park in Tehran. Then, a second woman appears, wearing a chador, a long, black covering which only reveals her face and hands. This uniform of sorts makes it clear that she is a member of Iran’s morality police -- "Gasht-e Ershad".
Accompanied by two other members of the morality police, the woman in a chador approaches the woman in the red headscarf, telling her that she isn’t wearing it appropriately.
“Move aside, animal!” screams one of the police officers. Off-camera, another woman screams. She tries to both film the scene taking place in front of her and protect her friend from the policewoman.
After a few seconds (around 0'20"), the policewoman grabs the shoulders of the young woman and shakes her. The young woman fights back, screaming, “Let me go! For thirty years, you haven’t been letting us live!”
At the end of the video, the woman is seen lying on the ground, without her red scarf, and seems to be in pain. Another friend begs the authorities to stop. “She has a heart condition,” she says.
The video was first shared on the Instagram account of Masih Alinejad, an Iranian activist who has led several campaigns against the law requiring women to wear the hijab. The video has since been viewed over a million times and been shared more than 10,000 times on social media. Most viewers have expressed shock at the violent nature of the scene.
Tweet from Taraneh Alidousti, a famous Iranian actress :“This is very sad for women, for humanity. Grabbing women’s hijabs or hair is not a way to guide them. This is just one more example of the ferocity of the patrols, of the tyranny and barbarism. We’ve seen other similar videos in the past years. Don’t pretend that you’ll punish the police this time.”
After the publication of this video, some women have been using the hashtag #MyCameraIsMyWeapon -- a threat to police the moral police by filming them and posting any footage of their abuses to social media.
Since the Islamic Revolution in 1979, women in Iran have been required by law to wear a head covering and cover themselves with long, loose clothing. During their patrols, morality police sometimes stop women they think are not covered up enough.
In response to the uproar, Iranian police apologised for what happened, while still maintaining that women should “respect certain societal rules". “The police does not approve of this kind of behavior,” said a police spokesperson. “We will carry out an investigation to uncover more information about this video.”
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