A group of teenage skaters have been arrested in the Iranian city of Shiraz amid a moral panic due to some of the girls in the group not wearing hijab.
On Thursday a video was posted online showing a gathering of young people in a park off the city’s Chamran Boulevard, seemingly to talk and skate. Hours later, Kazem Mousavi, the chief justice of Fars Province, issued an order for the “perpetrators” to be “investigated and dealt with”.
No fewer than 10 of the participants had been taken into custody by Friday. At the time of writing their age, sex and the charges against them had not been announced.
The governor of Shiraz, Mohammad Reza Amiri, said of the gathering: “Some of the actions and behaviors exhibited in this program would be unfamiliar to us even in pre-Islamic times.”
The arrests come at a time of increased state-backed clampdowns on women and girls choosing what they wear. In May alone, women’s coats that did not button up or fell above the knee were banned, and President Ebrahim Raisi’s father-in-law, the Friday Imam of Mashhad, called on people to “not wait for police” and directly intervene if they saw an unveiled woman in public.
They also took place despite the fact that Iran has signed and ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. This asserts the right of under-18s to play, to freedom of expression, and to “free participation in culture”, and stresses that their detention, imprisonment or prosecution should be undertaken “only as a measure of last resort”.