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Former boxing champ shot by Iran’s morality police, now partially paralyzed

Former Iranian boxing champion Reza Moradkhani was shot four times by Iran’s “morality police” on April 28, 2022.

Reza Moradkhani after being shot by Iranian police

A former Iranian boxing champion was shot by Iran’s “morality police,” leading to permanent injuries such as partial paralysis.

According to France 24, the incident took place on April 28, 2022, when the morality police, a local law enforcement group charged with enforcing strict Islamic codes of conduct, gave a citation to former champ Reza Moradkhani’s wife for alleged not wearing a headscarf correctly After questioning the police’s decision, Moradkhani was shot four times by the morality police.

Moradkhani was later hospitalized and underwent 12 hours of surgery for his injuries, leaving him partially paralyzed.

Moradkhani and his wife Maria Arefi, also a boxer, later filed a lawsuit against the morality police. However, the court dismissed their case last month, which led to the couple approaching the media to tell their story.

“We were walking in Pardisan Park, and suddenly a morality police van stopped next to us and a female officer said to me: ‘What’s your ID number? We want to verify if you have any moral offence records,’” Arefi told Shargh, a popular reformist daily newspaper in Iran last month. “I was shocked and told her to Google my name and my husband’s name to find out who we are. We are not criminals, there’s no need for an ID number.

“My husband was offended and asked, ‘What do you mean if my wife has a moral offence record?’ Then a male police officer came out of the van and told my husband, ‘Get away, it’s none of your business.’ My husband answered, ‘She’s my wife and your officer is talking about my wife, what do you mean it’s not my business?’

“To avoid any problems – especially because our one-year-old daughter was with us – we apologized, but the male officer insulted me. My husband asked him to be polite and suddenly the officer took out his pepper spray and gassed my husband. My husband could not see at all and then we heard a gunshot. Then, the officer kept shooting while the other was shouting, ‘Don’t shoot, don’t shoot!’ But the officer didn’t listen at all.”

Police allegedly confiscated cell phones from nearby witnesses in order to delete any visual evidence of the shooting. They later accused Moradkhani of trying to take the officer’s pepper spray canister, a charge which could land him one to three years in prison.

“I earn my living through boxing,” Moradkhani told Shargh. “Now, I can’t fight or coach for at least a year due to my physical situation. All we want is justice, and for the police to recognize the truth and give the maximum legal punishment to this officer.”

The hijab/headscarf was made mandatory in Iran following the 1978-’79 Islamic revolution. As such, it is a crime for women not to wear a headscarf in public and those who oppose it could face jail time and up to 74 lashes as punishment.