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Iran Police Arrests Party-Goers, But Not For Breaking Social Distancing Rules

Iran morality police patrols arresting young woman. FILE PHOTO

Police officers in Iran on Thursday raided a party in a town near the capital and arrested more than a hundred participants on charges of holding a mixed-gender party.

According to an official of Western Tehran Province Police Department the party was held in an orchard in the countryside. The police arrested 91 men and 20 women including the owner and seized 31 vehicles belonging to guests.

"Holding mixed parties is the 'red line' of the Police," the police official said and warned that there will be no clemency for people engaging in such activities and those who provide venues for such parties.

Police raids on mixed parties in Iran are not uncommon. The religious establishment considers holding mixed parties, serving alcohol and dance music which go hand in hand with defiance of the compulsory Islamic dress code (hijab) by women, as proof of moral corruption.

Attacking and breaking up parties were quite rife after the 1979 Islamic Revolution in Iran, but it gradually became infrequent. Even at the height of such vigilante practices, many Iranians enjoyed large parties, weddings, and other similar gatherings with men and women together despite the risks. Organizers of large mixed parties often took a lot of precautions including bribing local police to be left in peace.

Whenever possible, Iranians have tried to push the boundaries of social freedoms. Since the coronavirus outbreak, tens of videos showing Iranian health workers dancing in hospitals have gone viral on social media. The religious establishment strongly disdains such exhibitions of defiance of their brand of morality.

Usually, if caught, participants in such parties are sentenced to cash fines or even imprisonment by courts on the basis of the country's Islamic Penal Code.

Iran is currently struggling with a coronavirus crisis that has forced the government to shut down universities, schools, sports and cultural events, and even mosques and holy shrines. For the first time in the history of the Islamic Republic Friday prayers have been cancelled in major cities as well to prevent the spread of the deadly virus.

So far according to official figures more than 53,000 Iranians have caught the virus and 3,294 have lost their lives.