Saudi Arabia to get morality police warning app

Gershad's popularity in Iran, alerting users to the locations of guidance police, has convinced its developers to launch it in the Kingdom.

Neil Churchill February 17, 2016

Saudi Arabia is set to receive a mobile app that alerts users to the locations of morality police. 

Currently being used in Iran, Gershad – a combination of Gashte Ershad, the name of Iran’s ‘guidance police’ – has proved so popular with young Iranians that the developers are creating a similar app for use in other repressive states, including Saudi Arabia. 

Gershad covers the whole of Iran and compiles information from its users as to where Gashte Ershad patrols are. It updates every six hours and has already been downloaded over 21,000 times. 

Speaking to the UK's The Times newspaper, the app's developers said: “Millions of Iranians are harassed by morality patrols every year. It is embarrassing, humiliating and frightening to be stopped by Gashte Ershad, which could lead to arrest, trial and lashes.” 

“They treat you like a criminal, insult and humiliate you... We wanted an effective and non-violent resistance and we came up with Gershad.” 

Iran, like Saudi Arabia, has strict controls on use of the country’s internet. But the developers anticipated the app would quickly be blocked, and embedded software that gives users access through an encrypted tunnel. Sure enough, Iran’s government tried to shut it down, but failed. 

It is not yet known when the app will be on Saudi Arabia’s mobile market, or what it will be called. But when it does arrive, will you use it?