Young Iranian couple jailed for ten years for viral dance video

An Iranian court has sentenced a young couple to more than ten years in prison for dancing next to one of Tehran’s main monuments in a video seen as a symbol of defiance against the regime, human rights activists said on Tuesday.

Astiyazh Haghighi and her boyfriend, Amir Mohammad Ahmadi, both 20, were arrested in November after a video showing them dancing romantically in front of the Azadi Tower in the Iranian capital went viral on social media.

The girl was not wearing an Islamic headscarf, defying the Islamic Republic’s strict dress code for women, who are also not allowed to dance in public in Iran, much less with a man.

A revolutionary court in Tehran sentenced them to ten and a half years in prison, as well as bans from using the Internet and leaving Iran, according to the US-based non-governmental organization (NGO) Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA). .

Popular on the Instagram social network, the pair were found guilty of “encouraging corruption and public prostitution” as well as “gathering with intent to disrupt national security”, the NGO added.

Citing sources close to the respective families, HRANA reported that they were denied lawyers during the court proceedings and that attempts to release them on bail were rejected.

The NGO also explained that Astiyazh Haghighi is being held in the notorious Qaarchak women’s prison, whose prison conditions are regularly condemned by human rights activists.

Iranian authorities have been cracking down on all forms of dissent since the death of 22-year-old Iranian Kurd Mahsa Amini on September 16 last year at the hands of the so-called morality police.

Although she wore the hijab (Islamic veil), she allowed part of her hair to show, which led to the fierce attack on the street in Tehran and her arrest on September 13, being taken in a coma to a hospital where she would die three days later later, sparking a wave of protests against the regime.

At least 14,000 people have been detained since then, according to the United Nations, including celebrities, journalists, lawyers and ordinary citizens.

The video of the young couple was hailed as a symbol of the freedoms the protest movement is fighting for.

One of the main tourist attractions of the Iranian capital, the gigantic and futuristic Azadi (“freedom”) tower is a sensitive place for power.

It was opened during the reign of the last shah of Iran, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi (1941-1979), in the early 1970s, and was then known as the Shayad tower (“in memory of the shah”). It was renamed in 1979, when the Islamic Republic was established in the country.

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