Women across Iran defy authorities by releasing illicit dance videos

Women across Iran defy authorities by releasing illicit dance videos
Five girls in Tehran's Ekbatan district ignored the ban on females dancing in public in Iran. Their video went viral and inspired other girls and women to make and post similar videos. / Screengrab
By bne IntelIiNews March 14, 2023

A dance video posted by five Tehran girls that went viral has inspired others across Iran to make and post similar videos with the same song in a new form of protest against the clerical regime.

The ‘copycat’ videos amount to a risky act of defiance as women in Iran are forbidden by the ruling clerics from dancing in public.

The five who put out the original video were reported by official media to have voiced contrition. But whether they have done so or not, or have done so without duress, is unclear.

The dance videos released on social media can be seen as an imaginative alternative format for protest as activists try to bring the anti-regime demonstrations that first broke out last mid-September back to the boil.

The unrest was sparked by the death of Mahsa Amini, 22, who died in the custody of the Tehran morality police. Amini was detained for wearing attire, including a hijab, or headscarf, in a way that ideological police officers claimed breached the Islamic dress code that applies in Iran.

Whether the protests will flare up again into big demonstrations on the streets in the months ahead continues to be an issue of much debate.

Iranian journalist Keyvan Samimi, who was recently released from prison, has said that Iranians are poised to push further in their anti-government protests despite the brutal crackdown mounted by authorities against them.

In an interview with RFE/RL's Radio Farda, Samimi said Iranians appeared to have come to the conclusion that the protest movement won't be satisfied until there is real change. That would require gaining further momentum to push authorities aside.

"Society is in movement, and this movement flows under the skin of the city. The protests are not over and are quite likely to rise again if something unexpected happens," the 73-year-old Samimi was quoted as saying.

By many accounts the anger at the brutal lengths the regime has gone to to crack down on the protests runs very deep in Iran.

The Iran Watch column of UK satirical and current affairs magazine Private Eye has related in its March 3-16 issue how officials run a policy of preventing medical care being given to protesters.

It reported how since the protests began “the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI) has recorded the detention of 81 doctors and medical students, with most still in prison. Hundreds more have been threatened with losing their licences if they treat the injured in secret, and security forces scour hospital emergency rooms looking for protesters.

“Doctors say they know of no medic who hasn’t been warned or harassed. Yet even in countries where doctors are state employees, their duty is to patients, not employers – a vow taken by all and clear in both western and Islamic codes of medical ethics.

“Hadi Ghaemi, of the CHRI, says persecuting doctors for treating the wounded exposes the inhumanity and criminality of the Islamic Republic. But it also shows the people of Iran how little their leaders, whom they put in power in 1979, to make Iran a better place, care about them now.”