Iranian authorities in the conservative city of Mashhad, Iran, arrested a Culture Ministry official on Thursday after news spread that men and women were dancing at an event accompanied by a singer in a public mall.
According to Iran’s Radio Farda, “Deputy prosecutor Hassan Heydari told the judiciary’s Mizanonline news agency on April 19 that the head of the department of Islamic guidance in Mashhad was arrested for ‘undermining public decency and disrespecting the laws.'”
The reformist Iranian newspaper Shargh News Daily reported that the man arrested was Kazem Dabiri, deputy director general and head of Mashhad guidance. He was arrested at the Salman Mashhad Shopping Center.
حیدری، معاون دادستان مشهد: کاظم دبیری، معاون مدیر کل و رییس ارشاد مشهد امروز دستگیر شده است. دستگیری آقای دبیری به نفع کسبه برج سلمان انجام شده اما شکایتی از سوی کسبه ایراد نشده است – ایسنا
جشن مرکز خرید سلمان مشهد با حضور محسن ابراهیمزاده، خواننده، دلیل این امر اعلام شده است pic.twitter.com/HGfFW2orqt
— روزنامه شرق (@SharghDaily) April 19, 2018
Since Sharia law prohibits the mingling of unrelated men and women, which includes public dancing, calls were made for those in attendance of the event to be punished.
According to the BBC, a judicial official said the event at the shopping center was an “offense against public decency.”
Mashhad is the location of an important Shia shrine and is a stronghold of particularly hardline clerics.
Mohsen Afshar, a spokesman for the shopping center where the event took place, reportedly told the semiofficial ISNA news agency that the singer at the monthly lottery and car given away had the necessary “official permits to perform.”
The lottery drawing and singer were meant to attract more customers.
The Daily Mail reported that the performance could attract anywhere between 10-12,000 people.
However, Radio Farda noted that “Heydari told the hard-line Tasnim news agency that the mall was not authorized to organize such events.”