Irani protesters call for nationwide strike as mull mulls 'abolism'

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Irani protesters call for nationwide strike as mull mulls 'abolism'

Irani protesters were trying to build pressure on the country with three days of nationwide strikes beginning Monday, leading to more unrest, even as one senior official suggested that the Islamic Republic's morality police had been abolished.

With uncertainty over the status of the feared body whose conduct caused the months of protests, many activists dismissed suggestions of a government climbdown and said there should be no let-up against the state. The Biden administration expressed skepticism.

Social media was flooded with people calling for a general strike across the country and storefronts were shut down in several cities in Iran, according to a report by the Iranian diaspora.

One video that was shared widely showed a person spray painting 14, 15, 16 on a billboard in Tehran's Mirdamad Boulevard - this week's strike dates in Iran's Solar Hijri calendar.

Amini was the young woman whose death sparked the nationwide protests in September. She died in hospital three days after being arrested by the country's morality police for breaking its strict dress-code laws.

The demonstrations against her death have morphed into a wider movement, parts of which are demanding an outright revolution, the strongest challenge to the theocratic regime since it came to power in 1979.

According to a spokesman for Human Rights Activists in Iran, at least 470 people have been killed and some 18,000 detained in the subsequent crackdown by security forces. Other human rights groups believe similar, though Iran's interior ministry said Saturday that the death toll was 200, including security forces who had been killed.

He said that the morality police had been abolished and that officials were reviewing the country's mandatory hijab laws, which many young Iranians have ditched anyway. His unscripted comments were reported by the ISNA and ILNA, as well as several other media outlets. Iran's main state media agencies haven't covered the remarks, potentially signaling that they were not sanctioned by the political establishment.

They have not been repeated by Iran's president or supreme leader. It is not clear whether what Montazeri said has actually happened. The morality police have not been prominent on the streets of Tehran and other cities for about two months.

When asked about Montazeri's statement, Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian gave no direct answer. According to The Associated Press, everything is going well in Iran, within the framework of democracy and freedom, which very clearly exists in Iran.

Some experts and activists have been critical of the suggestion that the morality police had been shut down with suspicion.

Nazanin Boniadi, a Tehran-born British actor and human rights advocate, tweeted that it was not an official announcement, but merely a trial balloon floated by an official, showing regime leaders clearly understand they are in dire straits. The United States was skeptical that Iran is loosening its hijab laws, according to a senior Biden administration official. They said that it was possible that the announcement would reduce attendance participation in the three days of the strikes this week.

A State Department spokeswoman said the reports of reforms were ambiguous and vague, but the U.S. had not seen any sign that Iran's leadership is changing its treatment of women and girls or ceasing violence on peaceful protesters.