Will return of hijab patrols reignite protests on Iranian streets?
Iranian authorities have reinstituted what are known as hijab patrols on the streets of Iran, ten months after they cancelled the patrols out.
The cancellation of the patrols came against the backdrop of a wave of protests in the wake of the killing by Iranian morality police of a Kurdish woman, because she did not wear the Islamic headgear.
This move was seen by observers as an attempt by Iranian authority to bring calm to the streets.
Iranian police Spokesman, Brig. Gen. Saeed Montazer al-Mahdi, said the return of hijab police comes within the framework of extending public security.
Patrols cars and individuals, he said, would be deployed throughout the country.
He added that they would perform various police tasks, including warning, reminding and taking legal action against those who violate social rules by wearing unusual clothes, in a clear reference to the hijab.
The return of hijab patrols has widely condemned, amid warnings that the decision will contribute to igniting anger on the streets.
Former reformist President, Mohammad Khatami, warned that the resumption of patrols by the morality police could pose threats to the stability of the Islamic Republic.
"The danger of self-sabotage, a frequent topic of discussion, seems to be increasingly manifested with the resumption of patrols by the morality police, along with controversial police behaviour, security measures, and unconventional judicial rulings regarding social issues, especially concerning women," Khatami said.
He noted that Iranian the society is being shaken by enormous tensions.
The former Iranian president warned that the confused way the Iranian leadership addressed social issues would lead to further instability.
Meanwhile, according to the opposition news site, Iran International, forcing women to wear the hijab sparked clashes in Rasht, a city in northern Iran, after security officers tried to arrest three women for non-compliance with the compulsory hijab.
Police coercion caused ordinary Iranians in the same city to go out on the streets and chant slogans critical of Iranian Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei, the site said.
It noted, however, that people wearing civilian clothes dispersed the protests with tear gas, which also caused clashes.
Iranian affairs specialist, Masoud Ebrahim, said the return of hijab patrols was much anticipated.
"This is normal after street protests calmed down, and things became more stable after a period of protests," he told The Reference.
Ebrahim described the ten months of protests as the 'most difficult' period in Iran's history.
He added that the protests, the effects of which are still present in some provinces, especially those inhabited by ethnic and religious minorities, are a bet for many analysts that they are the beginning of the downfall of the regime.
"Nevertheless, the strength of the Iranian regime lies in its religious ideology," Ebrahim said.
He added that this ideology became over time the source of the regime's strength and its continuation for the longest period.