Iranian couple filmed dancing in Tehran imprisoned for 10 years | Iran

An Iranian court has sentenced a young couple to more than 10 years each for dancing outside one of Tehran’s main landmarks in a video seen as a symbol of defiance against the regime, activists have said.

Astiyazh Haghighi and her fiancé, Amir Mohammad Ahmadi, both in their twenties, were arrested in early November after a video went viral showing them dancing romantically in front of the Azadi Tower.

Haghighi did not wear a headscarf, in defiance of Iran’s strict rules. Women are also not allowed to dance in public, let alone with a man.

A revolutionary court in Tehran sentenced them each to 10 years and six months in prison, as well as banning them from using the internet and from leaving Iran, the US Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) said. ).

The couple, who already had a following in Tehran as popular Instagram bloggers, were found guilty of “encouraging corruption and public prostitution” as well as “gathering with intent to disrupt national security”, said he declared.

HRANA cited sources close to their families who said they had been denied lawyers during the legal process and attempts to secure their release on bail had been rejected.

He said Haghighi was now in Qarchak women’s prison outside Tehran, the conditions of which are regularly condemned by activists.

Iranian authorities have cracked down hard on all forms of dissent since Mahsa Amini’s death in September. The death of Amini, who had been arrested for allegedly breaking headscarf rules, sparked protests that turned into a movement against the regime.

At least 14,000 people have been arrested, according to the United Nations, ranging from prominent celebrities, journalists and lawyers to ordinary people who took to the streets.

The couple’s video had been hailed as a symbol of the freedoms demanded by the protest movement, with Ahmadi at one point lifting his partner into the air as her long hair flew behind.

One of the main icons of the Iranian capital, the futuristic Azadi (Freedom) Tower is a place of great sensitivity. It opened during the reign of the last shah, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, in the early 1970s, when it was known as the Shahyad Tower (in memory of the Shah).

It was renamed after the shah was ousted in 1979 with the creation of the Islamic republic. Its architect, a member of the Baha’i faith, which is not recognized in today’s Iran, now lives in exile.

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