Amidst a complex interplay of political, social, and economic crises, the Iranian regime grapples with profound concerns about the potential rekindling of uprisings. Government officials fear the impact of dissent among the less privileged sections of society, warning against “the day that the army of the hungry might take to the streets.”
Suppression remains a crucial imperative for the regime’s supreme leader Ali Khamenei to respond to any resurgence of upheaval. However, the regime also acknowledges that fervent “suppression” measures could inadvertently fuel further unrest. Certain quarters within the regime perceive the hijab issue primarily as a cultural matter targeting urban populations and the middle class. Conversely, many authorities caution that any uprising, fueled by widespread dissatisfaction, might unleash an unpredictable social explosion.
Consequently, the regime faces a delicate dilemma, where a single misstep could backfire disastrously and hasten its own demise.
These complexities are evident in the revival of the morality police’s patrols to enforce women’s adherence to hijab rules. On July 16th, Saeed Montazer-al-Mahdi, the spokesperson of the State Security Forces (SSF), officially declared the return of the morality police patrols (also called hijab patrols) to the streets, acting upon the orders of the chiefs of the three branches of power.
However, within 48 hours, the state-run news agency Tasnim cited presidential officials refuting any involvement of President Ebrahim Raisi in this decision. Simultaneously, the source emphasized that “if any denial were to be made, it should be issued by the spokesperson of the SSF,” effectively dismissing the indirect denial put forth by President Raisi’s administration.
On July 19th, Ensieh Khazali, an advisor to President Raisi on family and women’s affairs, asserted that President Raisi had no role in the reinstatement of these patrols.
This assertion was swiftly met with criticism from Hossein Sharyatmadari, the editor-in-chief of Kayhan newspaper, who stated: “We expect Ms. Khazali, who herself supports and promotes modesty and hijab, to be more precise in her statements and not inadvertently undermine the God-favored role of the president in the recent plan.”
Call for public mourning after the brutal murder of #MahsaAmini, an innocent Kurdish girl.
The misogynistic Guidance Patrol must be disbanded#Iran's courageous women must embark on a nationwide protest against the mullahs' evil & misogynous rule#IranProtests#WomenForce4Change pic.twitter.com/9WRbW6ngNX
— Maryam Rajavi (@Maryam_Rajavi) September 16, 2022
Providing further context, Mohammad Mohajeri, a member of the editorial board of the Khabar Online website and a figure close to Khamenei, proved that Raisi’s inconsistency has not been unprecedented.
Mohajeri wrote on his Telegram channel: “This is not strange, of course. I meant the last part of the news (Raisi’s denial), which is not surprising. In 2019, while serving as the head of the Judiciary, he signed a meeting’s minutes where the authorities agreed to raise gasoline prices from 1,000 to 3,000 tomans. However, when the situation escalated and unrest spread across the country, Mr. Raisi distanced himself from his own signature!”
Contradictory positions have long been a recurring feature of the clerical regime. However, this pattern now reveals a disconcerting and anxious situation, where ruling authorities are constantly weighing bad over worse.
Yet, as Khamenei and his accomplices are closely monitoring the society’s reactions to their decisions, they grapple with the fear that the repercussions of poor decisions might outweigh the risks of indecision.