Cool New App Lets Iranians Escape Morality Police's Harsh Crackdowns

A group of anonymous smartphone developers have come up with a convenient new way to combat the repressive code of morality in Iran.

A team of anonymous Android developers have come up with a smartphone application designed to help fashion conscious users avoid the morality police — or as they are called in Iran, Gasht-e-Ershad.

The Ershad patrol deal with various offenses: for women, wearing heavy makeup and not covering their heads can result in penalties; for men, wearing trendy, Western clothes can result in harsh rebuke. Exactly what constitutes as immoral behavior is open to the interpretation of an Ershad patrolman. If the agent deems the combination of clothes against the Sharia law, the person will be warned and in some cases, even prosecuted.

The new phone app named “Gershad” will allow users to mark spots on the Tehran city map where the checkpoint of Guidance Patrol is and will help users avoid them by choosing a different route. The data for the app is crowdsourced and allow users to point out places where Ershad vans are located; when a large number of users mark that exact point, an alert will show up for that location.

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Users have greeted the introduction of the app with glee as well as trepidation.

One Twitter user wrote: “Do not mind these applications operate or not, but every time one is downloaded it is a protest.”

Another user posted: “I do not agree with the Guidance Patrol , but you Gershad are officially disrupting police work!”

According to the Android developers of Gershad, in 2014 alone, about 3 million people were issued official warnings, 18,000 were prosecuted and more than 200,000 were made to write formal letters of repentance.

The development of the app and the enthusiastic response it received tells how desperate the Iranians are for new ways to resist the repressive laws.

The Gershad’s servers were inundated with too many requests yesterday after the release of the app and the high demand detected by the Iranian government prompted authorities to block the app less than 24 hours after it was launched. The developers are now fighting to get the app unblocked.

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