A young couple in their 20s were arrested in Iran over a viral video of them dancing. They have received a jail sentence of 10 years and 6 months each.
The couple had filmed a 16-second video of them dancing together in Azadi Square in Tehran, Iran, at night. The brightly lit Azadi Tower was visible in the background. In the video, Ahmadi held Haghighi in his arms as they spun around at one point, causing her uncovered hair to trail out behind her.
Conviction, Arrest and Jail Sentences
Astiyazh Haghighi, 21 and her fiancé, Amir Mohammad Ahmadi, 22, were arrested for posting a video of themselves dancing at Tehran’s Azadi Square in Iran.
The two were beaten and arrested by plainclothes agents in November of 2022, and received their sentences on Sunday.
They had been accused of promoting indecency, colluding against national security, and producing propaganda against the Iranian government. They were each convicted and sentenced to 10 and a half years in jail.
Along with the jail term, the two of them are banned from using social media as well as leaving Iran for 2 years.
According to sources and the couple’s families, they were deprived of having access to a lawyer, and their request to be released on bail was rejected.
Dancing in public or leaving one’s hair uncovered is illegal for women in Iran, and so is the action of men and women embracing each other.
As the couple has been convicted of 3 crimes, their sentences are a combined result of punishment for all of them.
The Couple in The Video
The two people in the video are Iranian social media influencers. They have a considerable presence online, with a combined follower count of around 2 million across several accounts. They are well-known in the city of Tehran for being Instagram bloggers.
Haghighi normally posted about fashion, beauty, and relationships while her hair remained technically covered in all her online content. The video of her dancing with her fiancé is one where she has her hair completely uncovered. She never posted any overtly political content.
She is now supposedly being held at Qarchak Prison for Women, which is often criticized for its inhumane conditions.
Her latest post after deleting the video in front of Azadi Tower is now a message written in Farsi, which says:
“I’m hoping tomorrow will be a better day.” Let’s hold each other’s hands and support each other. “We are all Iranians, and we need to help each other.”
She had posted this to Instagram on September 28, 2022, in the wake of the death of Mahsa Amini, a Kurdish woman who died towards the end of last year while in police custody after being arrested by the country’s morality police for “improperly” wearing her hijab.
A Viral Video of Rebellion
Many people and the Iranian authorities have speculated that Haghighi and Ahmadi’s last video together was an act of rebellion against the Iranian government after Amini’s death, especially since it was filmed in front of Azadi Tower and its square. A landmark that has become a flashpoint for both pro-democracy and pro-government demonstrations in Tehran. The word “Azadi” means “freedom.”
The Iranian government has been cracking down aggressively on all opposition and protests, often resulting in violence and arrests. Women leave their hair uncovered in public as an act of protest (which Haghighi was convicted for), but at their own risk of getting arrested and attacked.