Iranian Couple Filmed Dancing in Tehran are Jailed for 10 Years – According to activists, an Iranian court sentenced a young couple to more than ten years in prison for dancing in front of one of Tehran’s prominent landmarks in a video considered as a sign of defiance against the regime. Astiyazh Haghighi and her fiance, Amir Mohammad Ahmadi, were arrested in early November after a video of them dancing romantically in front of the Azadi Tower went viral.
In defiance of Iran’s strict rules, Haghighi was not wearing a headscarf. Women are also forbidden from dancing in public, let alone with a man. According to the US-based Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA), a revolutionary court in Tehran sentenced them to ten years and six months in prison, as well as restrictions on accessing the internet and leaving Iran.
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The couple, who already had a following in Tehran as popular Instagram bloggers, were convicted of “encouraging corruption and public prostitution” as well as “gathering with the intention of disrupting national security,” it said. HRANA cited sources close to their families as saying they had been deprived of lawyers during the court proceedings, and attempts to secure their release on bail had been rejected.
It added Haghighi was currently in the Qarchak women’s prison outside of Tehran, where circumstances are frequently denounced by activists. Since the death of Mahsa Amini in September, Iranian authorities have cracked down hard on all kinds of protests. The death of Amini, who was jailed for allegedly breaching the laws about headscarf, sparked protests that grew into a movement against the regime.
According to the United Nations, at least 14,000 individuals have been imprisoned, ranging from notable celebrities, journalists, and attorneys to ordinary citizens who took to the streets. The couple’s video was lauded as a symbol of the liberties desired by the protest movement, with Ahmadi raising his girlfriend in the air while her long hair flowed behind.
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The futuristic Azadi (Freedom) Tower, one of the key icons of Tehran, is a sensitive site. It first opened in the early 1970s, under the reign of the last shah, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, as the Shahyad (In Memory of the Shah) Tower. It was renamed when the Shah was deposed and the Islamic republic was established in 1979. Its architect, a follower of the Bahá’ faith, which is not recognized in modern-day Iran, now lives in exile.