Iran official condemns woman's treatment by 'morality police' in video
Posted April 20, 2018 6:20 a.m. EDT
(CNN) — Iran's Vice-President for Women's Affairs has "strongly" condemned an incident in which a female member of Iran's religious police appears physically to confront a female member of the public in an altercation that was captured on a cell phone camera.
The footage of the incident, which has been widely viewed online, appears to show the religious police confronting a woman wearing a scarf loosely draped on her head. It is unclear why the police officer first approached the woman.
After an exchange of words -- during which the woman is told "sit, you animal!" -- a female religious police officer appears to push and shove her. The encounter then appears to grow more violent, as screams and cries for "help" and "please stop" erupt.
Some of the screams are from the victim, and others appear to come from friends of hers at the scene. The quality of the amateur video means it is not fully clear what is happening but it is apparent that the situation is escalating and that and a physical altercation is underway.
CNN cannot independently authenticate the footage, which was spread on social media by activists campaigning against the compulsory wearing of the hijab in Iran.
Iran's Vice President for Women's Affairs, Masoumeh Ebtekar, criticized the actions of the religious police after the video spread rapidly on social media.
"What justifies this behavior?" she tweeted. "Where is the limit of an officer's action, even if they were insulted? I strongly condemn this treatment. No human deserves this kind of harsh anti-religion behavior."
Ebtekar later tweeted that Iran's Interior Minister Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli had ordered a "comprehensive review" and a report on the findings by Saturday.
It is unclear at this time what happened to the victim. The video appears to show her distressed but with no obvious injuries and still conscious.
Iran's religious police are in place in public areas officially to ensure that people are adhering to the strict social mores of the Islamic Republic.
In recent months, women across the country have removed their headscarves in public to protest against Iran's compulsory headscarf law. Videos and photos shared on social media have shown demonstrators standing on utility boxes on street sidewalks, defiantly waving their hijabs.
Since late December, police have arrested at least 33 people for their involvement in protests against the compulsory hijab. They include 29 people arrested in Tehran in February.
Tehran police have suggested that their actions were incited by foreigners, saying those arrested were "deceived" into removing their hijabs, Iran's semiofficial Tasnim News Agency reported.