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Iran Jails ‘Happy’ Director, Ups Threats Against Women

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The director of the video “Happy in Teheran,” who was arrested May 20 along with the six dancers in the video, has been moved to the notorious Rajaee-Shahr Prison in Karaj. The six dancers were released after being forced to “repent” on national TV and say that Soleimani had tricked them,.

However, Sassan Soleimani, 33, the director, is reportedly being held in solitary confinement, where it is said that he is being subjected to horrific conditions and being deprived of sleep. Human rights activists say these conditions are an indication that Iran plans to prosecute Soleimani.

The regime has also clamped down on Instagram, attempting to block the site after one of the women dancers, Reihane Taravati, used her Instagram account to announce her arrest and release.

Rights activists say that the regime is pressuring five of the dancers to file a lawsuit against Soleimani and Taravati for deceiving them about the purpose of the video.

Although the court set bail for Soleimani at 500 million rials ($16,600), which Soleimani’s family is prepared to pay, Iranian officials have refused to release him. As of Saturday, officials told his family to come back to visit him in a week.

After Iran’s morality police arrested Soleimani, police ransacked his house and confiscated his computer along with other personal belongings. Soleimani has been arrested in the past for making a video for a pop band in Iran.

The harsh treatment of the dancers and Soleimani is also believed to be a reaction to the growing campaign launched by Iranian women to push back against Iran’s mandatory religious dress codes for women. A Facebook page created by Masih Alinejad, an Iranian journalist living in London called My Stealthy Freedom, is being used to post pictures of Iranian women without the required Muslim head covering (hijab). The site has become very popular.

In addition, a Twitter account, called #MyStealthyJihad, shows Iranian women photographing themselves outside without their hijabs.

Iranian National Police, Brig. Gen. Mohammad Reza Radan, was quoted by the Iranian regime’s news agency as saying that morality police would continue to enforce the Islamic dress code for women.

“The moral security scheme will be implemented as before, and no one can suspend it with an order or instruction,” Radan said. “The scheme will continue to be implemented so long as this condition has not reached the state that we expect.”

The Iranian government also is using Tasnim, a state-run news agency in Iran operated by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corp, to publicize threats to the “My Steathy Jihad” activists.

In an interview with “media activist” Hadi Sharifi on Tasnim, Sharifi said that if women feel it is their right to appear any which way they desire in society or reveal their beauty to men, then it is the right of men to enjoy women. Sharifi explained that for men, enjoying women means having sex with them. Thus, said Sharifi, when a man forces himself on a woman because she is "showing off her beauty," this should not be considered rape.

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Further, Sharifi said since men have not granted women permission to show off their beauty, then men who become aroused by the "nakedness" of women do not need the permission of women to pursue their sexual urges.

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Meira Svirsky

Meira Svirsky is the editor of ClarionProject.org

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