Secretary of State Antony Blinken expressed skepticism after reports surfaced of Iran abolishing the so-called “morality police.”
Blinken reacted to the breaking news Sunday morning on CBS’s “Face the Nation.” Blinken was cautiously optimistic that the move could be a step in the right direction. However, he urged caution in reacting too quickly, saying that it does not guarantee that the protests will stop.
“Does this stop the protests that have been raging?,” asked host Margaret Brennan.
“That’s up to the Iranian people. This is about them,” said Blinken. “It’s not about us. And what we’ve seen since the killing of Mahsa Amini has been the extraordinary courage of Iranian young people, especially women, who’ve been leading these protests standing up for the right to be able to say what they want to say, wear what they want to wear. And so if the regime has now responded in some fashion, to those protests, that could be a positive thing. But we have to see how it actually plays out in practice. And what the Iranian people think. This is about them, and it’s up to them.”
Iran abolished its morality police early Sunday morning, a top official reportedly said, after months of protests set off by the death of a woman who was taken into custody for allegedly violating the country’s dress code.
Attorney General Mohammad Jafar Montazeri announced the decision at a religious conference on Sunday when asked if the morality police, tasked with enforcing Iran’s Islamic dress code, would be disbanded, according to BBC Persian. Iranian state media outlets reported the news late Saturday night.
“The morality police had nothing to do with the judiciary and have been shut down from where they were set up,” he said.
The report stressed that control of the force sits within the jurisdiction of the interior ministry, and other agencies have not confirmed the fate of the morality police.
The protests began in September, when a 22-year-old woman named Mahsa Amini died under mysterious circumstances while visiting the capital city of Tehran, as The Daily Wire reported. Amini was thrown into a van owned by the morality police, which enforces the authoritarian Islamist regime’s strict dress code.
The hospital she was taken to declared her brain dead upon her arrival, prompting Iranian dissidents to claim that she was murdered. Protests erupted soon afterward, in which protestors burned the compulsory hijab in the streets as a symbol of solidarity.
Daniel Chaitin contributed to this report.