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Hardline Tehran Prosecutor Advocates Harsher Penalty for Mixed-Gender Parties

party-artists-arrestsIranhumanrights.org - Tehran's hardline prosecutor general has announced that people caught at mixed-gender parties, especially celebrity artists and athletes, along with those caught consuming alcohol, or participating in other "indecent" activities should face stiffer penalties.

"As role models you should be more careful because youths can pick up bad lessons from these actions," said Abbas Jafari Dowlatabadi on December 27, 2016, addressing the celebrities. "The enemy's (US-led West's) evil intention is to spread promiscuity and cultural corruption. One reason these violations are taking place is that the punishments are too low."

Hardliners often blame the growing popularity of liberal culture in Iran on a US-led western onslaught on the Islamic Republic.

The warning accompanied an announcement that his office was investigating a recent mixed-gender party in Tehran where "some artists were present."

"If they continue to attend these indecent and un-Islamic parties and are convicted in court, their names will be made public," he added.

The prosecutor also claimed that between March and December of 2016, his agents had broken up 113 prostitution rings, raided 65 mixed-gender parties, confiscated 200,000 liters of domestically produced alcohol, 29,800 bottles of imported alcohol, 926 satellite dishes, and 2.37 million other "anti-cultural" items in the capital.

On December 14, Dowlatabadi had said that "two singers without permits" and "15 drunk people" were among 120 men and women arrested at a mixed-gender party at a coffee shop in Tehran.

The latest mass arrest is part of an ongoing nationwide crackdown on mixed-gender parties, which are illegal in Iran along with alcohol consumption. President Hassan Rouhani—who will be running for re-election in 2017—promised to lessen the policing of people's personal lives during his election campaign in 2013, but has failed to reign in hardliners who support the policy and dominate the country's security forces.

"We don't have the right to interfere in people's private or public lives," said Rouhani on April 20, 2016. "People's freedom cannot be restricted by the arbitrary actions of some individuals or agencies."

"People should feel that their public rights and freedoms are respected," he declared on June 28, 2016. "One of the explicit constitutional responsibilities of the Judiciary is to resurrect public rights and promote justice and freedom."