App launched to help Iranians dodge 'morality police' patrols

App launched to help Iranians dodge 'morality police' patrols February 10, 2016

A range of punishments face ‘inappropriately dressed’ young Iranians who fall foul of Iran’s notorious ‘morality police’, known in Persian as ‘Ershad’.
Ershad personnel, according to this report, have a very extensive list of powers. These range from issuing warnings and forcing those they accuse of violating Iran’s Islamic code of conduct to make a written statement pledging to never do so again, to fines or even prosecuting offenders.

But now an anonymous team of Iranian app developers have come up with a solution to help young fashion conscious Iranians avoid Ershad patrols.
The new phone app which is called “Gershad” (probably meaning get around Ershad instead of facing them), will alert users to checkpoints and help them to avoid them by choosing a different route.
The data for the app is crowdsourced. It relies on users to point out the location of the Ershad vans on maps and when a sufficient number of users point out the same point, an alert will show up on the map for other users. When the number decreases, the alert will fade gradually from the map.
In a statement on their web page the app’s developers explain their motives in this way:

Why do we have to be humiliated for our most obvious right which is the right to wear what we want? Social media networks and websites are full of footage and photos of innocent women who have been beaten up and dragged on the ground by the Ershad patrol agents.
Police need to provide security for the citizens not to turn into a factor for fear. A while ago, angry with such unreasonable oppressions, we looked for a solution to find a practical way to resist the volume of injustices peacefully with low risk level, to restore part of our freedom.

The app has rapidly become a hot topic on Iranian social media, with users generally welcoming it as an innovative way to avoid a potentially unpleasant encounter with the guardians of national virtue.
Ershad’s mobile checkpoints which usually consist of a van, a few bearded men and one or two women in black chadors, are deployed in towns across Iran and appear with no notice.
According to the designers of Gershad, in 2014 alone, around three million people were issued with official warnings, 18,000 were prosecuted and more than 200,000 were made to write formal pledges of repentance.
The range of offences which Ershad patrols deal with are extensive – from wearing too much makeup in public to wearing too little Hijab or head cover for women, to what is called Western influenced hair styles and trendy clothing for men.
Just exactly what amounts to immoral dress can be widely open to the interpretation of Ershad agents. Buying one’s clothes and or makeup from authorised shops won’t necessarily keep you out of trouble. If an Ershad agent sees the combination unfit according the Sharia code of conduct, one can still end up being warned or even prosecuted.
Also, if you’re caught walking or riding with your opposite sex friend, you still could end up being stopped, questioned and prosecuted by Ershad because that’s another violation of Islamic code of conduct.
If the app lives up to the claims made for it, Gershad will be a lifesaver for the growing numbers of young Iranians who are pushing the boundaries of what is allowed and finding themselves on the wrong side of what an Ershad agent sees as acceptable.

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  • CoastalMaineBird

    Kids these days…
    Don’t they know how much Allah is damaged by blue jeans?
    And if he had WANTED female elbows to be seen, he would have made them born naked !

  • CoastalMaineBird

    a lifesaver for the growing numbers of young Iranians who are pushing the boundaries of what is allowed
    Of course, it’s easy to say and harder to do, but the real answer is not to find ways to dodge the bullets, but to get them to stop shooting at you.
    I’ve always thought of the Iranians as bright people (technically, especially). They can’t help but see that the real immorality here is giving such arbitrary power over clothes choices over to a few designated mini-despots.

  • Ellis-e-yum

    What a wonderful country. And this is what muslims want to impose in civilised countries. We will have illicit viligante patrols on the streets of Luton and Birmingham to apply totalitarian sharia and to force out the kuffars.

  • Justin Badby

    What kind of shit do you have to be to qualify as sharia police ponce.

  • CoastalMaineBird

    What kind of shit do you have to be to qualify as sharia police
    I think of the TSA as a loser job (sorting thru underwear to find that bomb in the suitcase), but “morality police” has to be even worse. Patrol the streets looking for eyeliner or naked elbows.
    The qualifications are nil, except for loyalty to the Party.

  • Justin Badby

    And look at these treacherous bastards.
    Ad hominem perhaps but their intent is writ all over their repulsive faces.
    We need to bring back the offence of treason and attach to it mandatory loss of UK citizenship and deportation, or deliverance, to iran. Seems like a good match. They could join the iranian thought police.
    Our prisons will soon have to be fitted with minarets. Better to deport them

  • Laura Roberts

    I love the poetic elegance of using relatively simple modern technology to defeat this oppressive, primitive and unethical practice.

  • Justin Badby

    OT but here is more religiously motivated primitive behaviour.
    How do they check for using the preferred catholic birth control method – anal sex.

  • CoastalMaineBird

    simple modern technology to defeat this oppressive, primitive and unethical practice.
    But, is it really defeated?
    Have radar detectors defeated speed traps?
    It’s a stopgap, intended to evade. But the next step will be banning the app, banning phones, banning the Internet, something. It’s what they do.

  • barriejohn

    Iran, 1960s/1970s. Scroll down and weep:
    There are other, similar, pics on the net (and I’m sure that those posting are also aware of the downside of life under the Shah – secret police, abductions, detention without trial, etc.).

  • Cali Ron

    This is just another one of the sad legacies of American imperialism. America’s involvement in overthrowing the government to prop up the Shah was a major factor in the rise of the Ayatollah and radical Islam in Iran in what used to be the most modern and free Muslim country in the world. In spite of that utter failure and the disastrous results of our recent 2 wars in the middle east the war hawks continue to cry for more American military intervention in Syria and Libya.
    The Sunni’s and the Shia’s have been killing each other for centuries and generally speaking, only stop to kill Americans and Europeans when we meddle in their affairs. It’s foolish to think there is an easy military solution or any military solution to that plague on earth we call religion (in this case Islam).

  • ZombieHunter

    the vast majority of people in Iran are young and they despite the bitter old farts who run things and step on anyone who dares to try and change the status quo, this is another great example of how the young people of Iran want change and have been slowly pushing boundaries but it really is time for the normal people of iran to rise up once and fall and get rid of the clerics and ayatollah.
    Also have met people from iran I know for a fact that the people there love Britney spears as much as they love metallica and pantera there is an entire black market in western music 😀

  • barriejohn

    ZombieHunter: There is, unfortunately, another side to the coin. I became, through the internet, friendly with a young Iranian guy, and an even younger Saudi guy from a very privileged background, both gay and both studying in this country, but eventually, despite early promise, both seemed to give up the struggle, and seemed to succumb to the pressure to live the “normal” life that their families expected. I have heard from neither for a couple of years now, and guess that both are “happily married” and fitting in because they found the alternative impossible to contemplate. It’s all so very sad.

  • harrynutsak

    It all looks a bit dodgy.