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.


Iran ‘shooting itself in the foot’ with spying, diplomat warns

Wolfgang Ischinger attends the Munich Security Conference. (Reuters)
Updated 22 sec ago
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Iran ‘shooting itself in the foot’ with spying, diplomat warns

  • Ischinger, a former German ambassador in Washington, blasted Iran’s actions

BERLIN: Iran is harming Europe’s efforts to preserve the 2015 Iran nuclear accord with actions such as the case of suspected espionage involving a member of the German military, veteran German diplomat Wolfgang Ischinger said on Thursday.

Germany, which together with France has led efforts to keep the agreement in place, expressed grave concern this week to a senior Iranian diplomat about the case of an Afghan-German man who was arrested on Tuesday for suspected espionage.

“The Foreign Ministry addressed the case unmistakably with the manager of the Iranian Embassy on Jan. 15 and expressed our grave concern about the suspected intelligence activities,” a ministry source said.

Ischinger, a former German ambassador in Washington, blasted Iran’s actions, but said it was illusory to think that Iran or other governments would curb their espionage activities even if there was a formal agreement covering such actions.

“Iran should be smart enough to realize that it is shooting itself in the foot because it is harming the political mood surrounding the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPoA) ... but that is no reason to rip up the agreement,” he said.

Iran’s actions in Germany and elsewhere were raising concerns and overshadowing efforts to keep the Iran nuclear deal alive, he said. 

Iranian Foreign Minister Jawad Zarif will be one of more than 100 heads of state and other leaders at this year’s Munich Security Conference, to be held on Feb 15-17.