ve hav ways to stop you having fun
September 12, 2011 § 1 Comment
Giant water pistol battle ‘diluted Islamic values’
Hundreds enjoyed the water gun fight, later condemned as “immoral”
What most upset the joyless Iranian regime — people having fun, or citizens organising themselves through a potentially subversive social networking site?
Late last week, when temperatures in Tehran approached 40C (104F), a notice was posted on Facebook inviting all and sundry to a giant water pistol fight in the Ab V Atash (Fire and Water) park in the north of the capital.
Hundreds of men, children and women in black, all-enveloping chadors turned up. They gleefully soaked each other for two or three hours. Pictures showed families enjoying themselves. Finally the park managers turned the taps off and everyone went home. Nobody was hurt. Nobody complained. The event was reported in Tehran newspapers the next day, which is when the trouble began.
A local official named Behnam Atabaki condemned the gathering as “immoral”.
Mohamad Taghi Rahbar, an MP from Isfahan who chairs the parliament’s legal and judicial committee, took up the cry, insisting that the authorities “should not show indifference to those who are endeavouring to dilute our Islamic values”. He added: “We are pursuing more information on those who organised this and will deal with them severely”.
A similar event later was swiftly suppressed by the police, and several alleged participants were rounded up and paraded on state television to condemn their own behaviour.
“The girls had mostly ignored the dress code and their headscarves were not properly covering them,” one man said. Another claimed that the organisers were trying to turn the event into something political. “We have asked the judiciary to deal with these wrongdoers as severely as possible. We cannot tolerate such public events anywhere in the country,” an official from the so-called morality police added.
Tehran’s fun-starved youth are not impressed. They are now trying to organise water pistol fights in other Iranian cities, and a number of angry and sarcastic messages have been posted on Facebook. One proposes a list of new crimes including the playing of hide-and-seek and paper-rock-scissors, but says that throwing acid into women’s faces is acceptable — a reference to the pardoning on Sunday last week of a man who blinded his victim by doing just that. Another displays a picture of an infant girl carrying an outsized water pistol with the caption: “The main threat to state security has been arrested”. In truth, it is Facebook that the regime regards as the main threat to state security. It was widely used to mobilise the opposition during and after President Ahmadinejad’s disputed re-election in 2009. Ostensibly it is now banned, but Iranians find ways to access it.
Iran has accused foreign powers of orchestrating water fights in public parks to corrupt the nation’s youth and destabilise the Islamic Republic (Hugh Tomlinson writes).
Dozens of teenagers have been arrested since crowds descended on Water and Fire Park in Tehran armed with water pistols for fights organised on Facebook. Several have been paraded on state TV to confess their “crimes” and pictures of girls in soaked abayas have scandalised Iranian hardliners. Tehran has blamed counter-revolutionaries.
Today’s water pistol fights could become tomorrow’s uprising, the regime fears.