Iran jails couple over viral dance video: activists

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An Iranian court has handed down jail sentences of more than 10 years each to a young couple who danced in front of one of Tehran’s top landmarks, activists said Tuesday.

Astiyazh Haghighi and her fiancé Amir Mohammad Ahmadi, both in their early 20s, had been arrested in early November after a video of them dancing romantically in front of the capital’s Azadi Tower went viral.

Haghighi did not wear a headscarf in defiance of the Islamic republic’s strict rules for women, while women are also not allowed to dance in public in Iran, let alone with a man.

A revolutionary court in Tehran each sentenced them to 10 years and six months in prison, as well as a ban on using the Internet and leaving Iran, the US-based Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) said. Joined.

The couple, who already had a following in Tehran as popular Instagram bloggers, were convicted of “fostering corruption and public prostitution” as well as “gathering with the intent to disturb national security,” it added.

HRANA cited sources close to their families as saying they have been deprived of lawyers during court proceedings, while attempts to secure their release on bail have been rejected.

The group said Haghighi is now in the notorious Qarchak women’s prison on the outskirts of Tehran. Activists regularly condemn the conditions at the facility.

Iranian authorities have cracked down severely on all forms of dissent since the September death of Mahsa Amini, who had been arrested for allegedly violating veiling rules, sparked protests that have turned into an anti-regime movement.

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

The video of the couple had been hailed as symbolic of the freedoms demanded by the protest movement, with Ahmadi at one point lifting his partner into the air as her long hair flowed back.

One of the main icons of the Iranian capital, the gigantic and futuristic Azadi (Freedom) Tower is a place of enormous sensitivity.

It was inaugurated under the rule of the late Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi in ​​the early 1970s, when it was known as the Shahyad (Shah’s Memorial) Tower.

It was renamed after the shah was overthrown in 1979 with the creation of the Islamic republic. His architect, a member of the Bahai faith that is not recognized in today’s Iran, now lives in exile.

HRANA also said that young Iranian Armita Abbasi, whose case has aroused international concern, went on trial on Sunday after she was arrested in October over protests in the city of Karaj, on the outskirts of Tehran.

In November, the US news outlet CNN, citing leaks and an anonymous medical source, reported that she was rushed to hospital after being raped while in custody. Iranian authorities have denied the allegations.

HRANA and Iranian media quoted his lawyer Shahla Oroji on Tuesday as saying that Abbasi had been brought before charges including anti-establishment propaganda and that the court had refused to grant him bail.

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