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Iran is implementing new rules to enforce the country’s strict laws requiring women to cover their heads in public, as the country’s clerics seek to curb the anti-government protests that have engulfed the Islamic republic for months, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Earlier this month, the Iranian prosecutor general’s office issued a directive to police to refrain from detaining women failing to respect the country’s Islamic dress code, and instead impose penalties on them.

The penalties would include fines, community service and an international travel ban. Women working in the public sector could be dismissed from their jobs.

The new rules extend to individuals or entities tolerating dress-code violations, which include taxis, restaurants and banks.

Analysts and human rights advocates noted that the changes would allow police to take a less confrontational approach in enforcing the headscarf law, which sparked the ongoing mass demonstrations.

The protests began in September following the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, who was arrested by Iran’s controversial morality police for allegedly violating the Islamic dress code. She later died in police custody.

Tens of thousands have taken to the streets against the morality police even as the demonstrations have transformed into calls to end Iran’s Islamic system of rule. More than 1,000 people have been arrested and at least four individuals have been executed in connection with the anti-government protests.

Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei has strongly defended the mandatory hijab rule in recent years and blames Western nations for instigating the unrest.

The new guidelines come a month after Iran’s attorney general said the government had disbanded the morality police and was considering changing the requirement that women covered their heads in public.

But since then, there have been no other official announcements about the dissolution of the police unit. Activists say the Islamic Republic would never abolish the headscarf rule, calling it a pillar of the government’s control.

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