A young couple have been sentenced by an Iranian court to more than a decade in prison each after posting a video of themselves dancing in front of a major monument in Tehran, according to a US-based human rights group. USA and UK BBC News.
The Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) said Iranian security forces “violently” arrested Astiyazh Haghighi, 21, and her fiancé Amir Ahmadi, 22, at their home in Tehran on November 1, 2022. , shortly after posting a video on social media. media showing them dancing in a town square with the Azadi (Freedom) monument in the background.
HRANA said a Tehran court sentenced them to prison terms of 10 years and six months after convicting them of “inciting corruption and public prostitution” and “gathering with intent to disrupt national security”.
The couple were also banned from using the internet and from leaving Iran for two years, a period that would presumably begin after their incarceration.
The BBC said its sources confirmed the November 1 arrests, which came after the couple posted the video to their two Instagram accounts, which together have around 2 million followers. The video appears to have been deleted from their accounts, but has been widely shared by others on various social media platforms.
The Mizan news site, spokesperson for Iransaid the pair were not being held for dancing, but for online activities that included “encouraging people to revolt against the country and subversion.”
“Astiazh Haghighi and Amir Mohammad Ahmadi had posted a call for a rally on November 4 and called for riots on their Instagram pages,” the statement read. “During the riots, they used their page to advertise appeals, including the November 4 appeal.”
Iranian security forces repressed mercilessly on anyone joining or even deemed sympathetic to the nationwide anti-government protests that erupted in September following the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in the custody of the country’s “morality police”. She was detained for an alleged violation of the Islamic Republic’s strict dress rules for women.
At least four people have been executed after convictions linked to the protests, and hundreds have been embroiled in mass arrests. According to HRANA, at least 506 people have been killed in the Iranian authorities’ violent crackdown on the protests, which have died down in recent months.
While Haghighi and Ahmadi’s social media clip simply showed two young people dancing happily and made no overt reference to protests or Iran’s hardline Islamic religious leaders, the dance itself is illegal in the conservative nation.
In a report published just days before the couple’s sentencing, BBC News spoke to Iranian DJs who explained that dancing, especially to modern or Western music, had become an act of protest against the regime in itself .