According to activists, an Iranian court sentenced a young couple who appeared in a video dancing in front of a prominent landmark in Tehran as a sign of defiance against the regime to more than 10 years in prison each.
Early in November, Astiyazh Haghighi and her fiancé Amir Mohammad Ahmadi, both in their early 20s, were detained when a video of them dancing passionately in front of Tehran’s Azadi Tower went viral.
Haghighi disobeyed the tight regulations for women in the Islamic Republic by refusing to wear a headscarf. Additionally, women are not permitted to dance in public in Iran, much less with a man.
This couple has been sentenced to 10.5 of prison for this public dance in the Azadi Sq in Tehran. It’s hard to believe how little moments of joy are being so violently crushed by IR. Dancing in public has become one of the most powerful forms of resistance in Iran. #MahsaAmini pic.twitter.com/Yz3NpFBwIn
— Fatemeh (Shahrzad) Shams (@ShazzShams) January 30, 2023
A revolutionary court in Tehran sentenced them each to 10 years and six months in prison, as well as bans on using the Internet and leaving Iran, the US-based Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) said.
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 added.
READ MORE: Mounting Security Threats Add To Pakistan’s Struggles
HRANA cited sources close to their families as saying they had been deprived of lawyers during the court proceedings while attempts to secure their release on bail have been rejected.
It said Haghighi is now in the notorious Qarchak prison for women outside Tehran, whose conditions are regularly condemned by activists.
Iranian authorities have clamped down severely on all forms of dissent since the death in September of Mahsa Amini, who had been arrested for allegedly violating the headscarf rules, sparked protests that have 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 moment lifting his partner in the air as her long hair flowed behind.
One of the main icons of the Iranian capital, the gigantic and futuristic Azadi (Freedom) Tower is a place of huge sensitivity.
It opened under the rule of the last shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi in the early 1970s when it was known as the Shahyad (In Memory of the Shah) Tower.
It was renamed after the shah was ousted in 1979 with the creation of the Islamic republic. Its architect, a member of the Bahai faith which is not recognised in today’s Iran, now lives in exile.
READ MORE: Global Green Energy Investment Matches Fossil Fuel Spending: Report