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Activist Masih Alinejad slams NYT for spreading misinformation

Masih Alinejad, the Iranian journalist and activist Tuesday slammed The New York Times (NYT) for spreading fake news that the Iranian regime has disbanded the country’s morality police. Several media outlets including The New York Times had reported that Iran had abolished the morality police which enforces the Hijab law in the country, after months of protests triggered by the death of Mhasa Amini.

Denouncing western media outlets for disseminating misleading information, the activist claimed that media outlets such as NYT were assisting the Iranian fascist government in spreading propaganda.

“The false news spread by @nytimes claiming victory for the so-called abolition of the morality police hurts the ongoing revolution. I told @ABCNewsLive that when dictatorships like the Iranian regime are in trouble, they spread propaganda and obfuscation,” Tweeted the Iranian journalist.

She also shared a snippet of her interview with ABC News where she said, “We were shocked when we saw the title of New York Times saying this is a victory. What kind of victory? It was a total lie and disinformation. It was a propaganda move by the Islamic Republic. When dictators are shaken, they know how to use disinformation to mislead the rest of the world or to calm down the protesters within the society.”

The journalist, while criticising the Iranian government’s fascism and the media outlets that support it, stated that on the same day when news organizations like NYT reported that the morality police has been repealed, the Iranian government, in fact, shut down an amusement park in Tehran simply because an Iranian woman present was not wearing a veil.

Masih also asserted that the protests in Iran where people are facing guns, and jailtime are not just about the morality police, but the people want to topple the Islamic regime.

The New York Times on December 4, 2022, quoted senior Iranian official Attorney General Mohammad Javad Montazeri as confirming that Iran had abolished the morality police.

Sharing the link of its report where it quoted the Iranian official as confirming that morality police in Iran has been disbanded, NYT also Tweeted on December 4, “The decision, reported by state news outlets, appeared to be a significant victory for feminists who have sought for years to dismantle the morality police. Abolishing the force would have a major impact on Iran’s ability to police what women wear.”

Following this, many media outlets worldwide reported that the Iranian government has decided to abolish its morality police, a piece of news which has now been refuted by the Iranian journalist and activist Masih Alinejad.

‘Morality police NOT abolished, the statement was ambiguous ‘

It was later reported by some news outlets that the official whom NYT cited as saying the morality police will be disbanded has himself rejected the claims. “No official authority in the Islamic Republic of Iran has confirmed the closure of the morality police”, stated a media report.

Iranian officials later clarified that the statement was misconstrued by media houses and that the morality police was not established by the Islamic regime’s judiciary in the first place but was a special arm of the police, hence it was up to the police to intensify or ‘reduce’ their outreach.

Iranian women protest against the Islamic country’s draconian law of ‘Morality police’

Notably, Iran has been witnessing widespread protests against the Islamic regime.

The protests erupted on September 16 following the death of Mhasa Amini, a 22-year-old Iranian of Kurdish descent who had been detained by morality police for allegedly violating sharia law.

According to the reports, the incident is said to have happened on September 13 when Amini, a native of Saghez, Iran, had travelled to Tehran for a pleasure trip. The woman was with her brother Kiarash at the entrance to the Shahid Haghani Expressway when the ‘Morality Police’ arrived and arrested Amini for a one-hour ‘re-education class.’

Following her death, widespread protests erupted in the Islamic nation protesting the Sharia laws and compulsory hijab for women. Women across the world supported the movement by chopping their hair and burning their headscarves.

What is the morality police which enforces the Hijab law in Iran?

The morality police, the formal name of which is Gasht-e Ershad or “Guidance Patrol”, were established in 2005 under hardline president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, to “spread the culture of modesty and hijab.” The police squad consisted of both male and female members that patrolled the streets and public places to monitor women’s attire. The Guidance Patrol teams arrest women they think are not appropriately dressed as per Islamic rules.

The women found violating the morality codes are slapped in the face and beaten with batons on the spot and pushed into police vans. They are taken to a correctional facility or police station, where they are lectured on how to dress appropriately and are released after recording the details. The detained women are also required to destroy their ‘inappropriate’ clothes if applicable.

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