TEHRAN — More than 30 college students were arrested, interrogated and within 24 hours were each given 99 lashes for attending a graduation party that included men and women, Iran’s judiciary has announced.
The punishments, which were believed to be part of a wider crackdown by a judiciary dominated by hard-liners, were meted out in Qazvin, about 90 miles northwest of the capital, and were carried out in record time, Mizan, a news agency affiliated with the judiciary, reported on Thursday, citing the city’s prosecutor.
The Qazvin prosecutor, Esmail Sadeghi Niaraki, said that more than 30 female and male students — the women were described as “half naked,” meaning they were not wearing Islamic coverings, scarves and long coats — were arrested while “dancing and jubilating” after the authorities received a report that a party attended both by men and women was being held in a villa on the outskirts of Qazvin.
An arrest warrant was issued, he said, and the defendants were sentenced to 99 lashes after being questioned. “We hope this will be a lesson for those who break Islamic norms in private places,” Mr. Niaraki said.
Mixed-gender parties, dancing and the consumption of alcohol are illegal in Iran, although they have become common over the past decade, especially in cities.
Lashings have been used regularly as a punishment since the Islamic revolution of 1979, but in recent years the practice has been used more as a threat than an actual punishment.
The arrests came a day after state news media reported raids on parties in Kerman and at a “singles home” in Semnan, both provincial capitals.
In Kerman, 23 people were arrested, the official Islamic Republic News Agency reported on Wednesday, although it did not provide details about whether anyone had been punished.
In Semnan, several “polluted singles houses were cleaned” and 97 people, including 10 women, were detained.
Col. Mojtaba Ashrafi of the Semnan police told the news agency that the raids were carried out over a 48-hour period, after the authorities monitored for several weeks 58 homes in which single people were believed to be living.
Living alone is not a crime in Iran, but Colonel Ashrafi told the agency that apartments occupied by single Iranians are more likely to be the site of criminal conduct, and he added that narcotics, alcohol and satellite receivers were found in some of the homes.
Iran’s hard-line judiciary began a crackdown on such behavior after the sweeping victory of a reformist and moderate coalition in the Tehran constituency in parliamentary elections in February.
President Hassan Rouhani has expressed hope that the presence of more allies in Parliament will allow his government to push for at least modest social changes and more personal freedoms.
The judiciary has responded by stepping up its own activities, and last week it announced the arrest of several so-called Instagram models. A blogger was arrested, and prominent actors and actresses, who have huge social media followings in Iran, were given warnings about adhering to Islamic dress code and “Islamic behavior.”
Judges in Iran have broad freedoms to interpret Islamic law, and according to the Constitution, the government and other institutions have no right to interfere with their decisions.
(via NY Times)