Iran arrests culture ministry official over public dance

A handout picture provided by the office of Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on April 14, 2018, shows him (2nd-R) delivering a speech. (AFP)
Updated 19 April 2018
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Iran arrests culture ministry official over public dance

  • Iran arrested a senior official after a video posted online showed young boys and girls dancing in public in the northeastern holy city of Mashhad
  • The video shared on social networks showed young boys and girls dancing in a shopping mall, where a singer was performing for a huge crowd

TEHRAN: Iran on Thursday arrested a senior official after a video posted online showed young boys and girls dancing in public in the northeastern holy city of Mashhad, the judiciary said.
“The head of the ministry of culture and Islamic guidance in Mashhad was arrested for undermining public decency and disrespecting the laws,” the judiciary’s Mizan Online news agency said quoting a deputy prosecutor.
Islamic law in Iran prohibits public dancing.
The video shared on social networks showed young boys and girls dancing in a shopping mall, where a singer was performing for a huge crowd. The event took place on Tuesday.
Mohsen Afshar, a spokesman for the shopping center, told the ISNA news agency that a monthly draw is organized and a car given away to the lucky winner to attract customers.
According to Afshar the singer had the necessary “official permits to perform.”
The performance can attract 10,000-12,000 people, he said, including “some individuals whose behavior is contrary to the norms of the Islamic republic.”
But Heydari told Tasnim news agency that the mall was not authorized to organize such events.
Mashhad is a holy and conservative city where in 2016 concerts were banned by the Friday prayer leader, Ayatollah Ahmad Allamolhoda, who also told music-lovers to “Go somewhere else.”
Thursday’s arrest comes days after Tehran’s reformist mayor, Mohammad Ali Najafi, resigned after claims he was threatened with arrest.
Najafi had attracted criticism from hard-liners last month after attending in March a show at City Hall for Iranian Women’s Day in which schoolgirls performed a traditional dance.


Israel announces plan to approve 2,500 new settler homes in West Bank

Updated 24 May 2018
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Israel announces plan to approve 2,500 new settler homes in West Bank

JERUSALEM: Israel’s defense minister said on Thursday he plans to seek approval next week for the construction of some 2,500 new homes in Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank.

Avigdor Lieberman, writing on Twitter, said a regional planning board would be asked to designate 1,400 of the housing units for immediate construction.

Settlements are one of the most heated issues in efforts to restart Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, frozen since 2014.

Palestinians want the West Bank for a future state, along with East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip. Most countries consider settlements that Israel has built in territory it captured in the 1967 Middle East war to be illegal.

Israel disputes that its settlements are illegal and says their future should be determined in peace talks with the Palestinians.

“We will promote building in all of Judea and Samaria, from the north to south, in small communities and in large ones,” Lieberman wrote, using the Biblical names for the West Bank.

There was no immediate comment from Palestinian officials, who have long argued that Israeli settlements could deny them a viable and contiguous country.

Some 500,000 Israelis live in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, areas that are also home to more than 2.6 million Palestinians.