Young Iranian females often opt for trendy dresses and fashionable headscarves. (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi)
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Tehran resident Sousan Heidari has stopped letting her headscarf slip casually down over her neck and shoulders while driving in the Iranian capital. These days, the 22-year-old with a taste for bold makeup makes sure to pull it tightly over her dark hair, fearful of running afoul of a newly established undercover division of the morality police. Tehran police chief Gen. Hossein Sajedinia recently announced his department had deployed 7,000 male and female officers for a new plainclothes division – the largest such undercover assignment in memory. Police assigned to the morality-enforcement beat normally wore the same dark green uniform of regular Iranian police, and were stationed out in the open at major squares and crossroads.Police responded to the criticism by saying that "demands by the people" led to the creation of the new unit and that concerned citizens could contact police about any ambiguities.Tehran-based political analyst Saeed Leilaz believes the new unit is a reaction to the resounding defeat of hard-line and conservative candidates in Tehran during recent parliamentary elections.Leilaz noted that these new plainclothes units have only been announced for Tehran, not for any other major Iranian city.
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