Banned In Iran

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From the music video "Happy in Tehran"
From the music video “Happy in Tehran”

Although we could write about hundreds, here are 10 everyday activities we take for granted in the West that are banned in Iran:

  1. Satellite dishes

    Owning a satellite dish is punishable by a fine of up to $2,800 since they “deviate the society’s morality and culture.”  The government reportedly destroyed 100,000 satellite dishes.

    The parliament also voted against allowing private TV channels to be broadcast in the country.

  2. Social Media

    Last calendar year alone, Iran banned 160,000 social media accounts and websites because they were spreading “atheism and corruption.” Because it is encrypted, the messaging app Telegram is used extensively among Iranian youth. Iran ranks highest in the world for censored internet usage.

  3. Public Affection

    Any touching between men and women who are not family members is forbidden. Even a handshake can be punishable as it is called an “illegitimate sexual relationship short of adultery,” as Atena Farghandani, 20, found out. Farghandani was sentenced to 12-and-a-half years in jail for drawing a political cartoon and was subsequently charged with “indecency” for shaking her lawyer’s hand when he came to visit her in jail.

  4. Zumba

    Iran recently declared Zumba illegal. The ban came down through the head of the Iranian “Sports for All Federation,” which decided that the popular dance fitness program set to Latin music was un-Islamic.

  5. Hair

    Women in Iran are forbidden to appear in public without a veil covering their hair. A protest Facebook page called “My Stealthy Freedom” is a popular site for women to post pictures of themselves outside with their hair uncovered.

    (Photo: Reuters)

    Not only does a woman risk consequences for appearing unveiled, but those close to her can also face consequences as well. When Iranian soccer star Mohsen Forouzan became engaged to Iranian model Nasim Nahali, he posted a picture of Nahali unveiled. The Iranian soccer federation ethics committee suspended Forouzan for three month over the offense.

    Female mannequins are also required to be veiled.

    Men in Iran have restriction of their own on their hair. They are forbidden from having unorthodox hairdos.

  6. Women Riding Bicycles

    Women are forbidden from riding a bicycle in public places, which has prompted them to pose pictures of themselves on riding bikes on “My Stealthy Freedom.” Especially ironic is the fact that the Iranian government recently launched an environmental campaign promoting bike riding, urging the population: “Every Tuesday, give up your car and take your bike.”

  7. Appearing with Arms Showing

    When it was announced that a female Iranian body builder was arrested for posting pictures on line, the media figured assumed it was Shirin Nobahari, pictured here.
    When it was announced that a female Iranian body builder was arrested for posting pictures online, the media figured assumed it was Shirin Nobahari, pictured here.

    Women are only allowed to show their face and hands and feet in public. In addition, women must wear baggy clothing so that no body form can be seen. A female Iranian bodybuilder was arrested and thrown in jail this year for publishing photos of herself in her work-out clothes. She was charged with violating the Islamic Republic’s laws on nudity.

    Men may only wear pants and shirts in public – no strange clothing or tank tops. Western-style neckties are frowned upon, making them essentially illegal.

  8. Mixing of Sexes

    Strictly forbidden in Iran are any gatherings that don’t conform to Islamic standards. In addition, elemntary and secondary schools are segregated as are mosques, public transportation and libraries. In universities, men and women must sit on opposite sides of the classroom. Certain disciplines are closed to women altogether.

  9. Playing Music in Public

    Forbidden in Iran, except without an official permit. Also included in the ban is tapping, dancing, nodding or any form of keeping in tune with music.

  10. Appearing in a Dance Video

    Performers in the Iranian social media hit “Happy in Tehran” (where young Iranians lip synched to the Pharrell Williams hit song) were arrested and charged with making an “obscene video that offended the public morals.”

    The six Iranian young people who appeared in the video were sentenced to up to one year in prison

    A clip from "Happy in Tehran"
    A clip from “Happy in Tehran”

    and 91 lashes but the sentence was suspended. The actors were made to appear on Iranian TV saying they had been tricked into making the video.

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Meira Svirsky

Meira Svirsky is the editor of ClarionProject.org

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