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Iran: Where a Water Fight is Illegal

Samara Greenberg

Iranian police arrested 17 youths last week after they staged a co-ed water fight at a park in southern Iran. While five were released that day, the remaining were released on bail two days later and could face sentences for publicly committing an “act forbidden” (haram) by Islam as well as “insulting police officers.”

Friday’s event was scheduled as a follow-up to a larger water fight that took place one week prior involving some 800 male and female youths. That event, planned on Facebook, took the Iranian police by surprise, as they “couldn’t get control” of the water-fighters for some three hours. After pictures of the event surfaced on the Internet revealing boys and girls drenched in water and girls with their mandatory hijabs coming off, the police arrested ten youths and officials criticized the event as inappropriate. Click here for the pictures.

Men and women not related or married in Iran are not allowed to touch or have relationships, and they are certainly discouraged from mingling publicly. Many youths, however, which dominate the country – 70 percent of Iran’s population is under the age of 35 – continue to push the boundaries and assert their independence, despite a crackdown by the regime that has prohibited certain hairstyles and clothing.

Tehran is afraid of any large youth gathering, especially in today’s climate of Arab uprisings, as they believe a large gathering can lead to riots against the regime. And that’s probably not far from the truth. According to one participant in the water fight, “The first goal was just to have fun. The second might have been a political agenda.” Not afraid of the regime, the Iranian youths are planning a larger event in early September following the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.