Teaching Comparative Government and Politics

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Go to another part of town

One of the mysteries of the Iranian regime is the "morality police." Are they part of the government? Under whose authority do they operate? Or are those questions that only an ignorant non-believer would ask?

And what would be the equivalent of the Ershad in the other countries you have studied?

Iranian youth get app to dodge morality police
An anonymous team of Iranian app developers have come up with a solution to help young fashion conscious Iranians avoid the country's notorious morality police known in Persian as Ershad or guidance.

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.

Ershad personnel have a very extensive list of powers ranging 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.

The new phone app which is called "Gershad" (probably meaning get around Ershad instead of facing them) however, will alert users to checkpoints and help them to avoid them by choosing a different route.
Part of Gershad screen

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?…

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…

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