The action taken against an elderly man for dancing and singing in public has drawn media criticism of the Iranian government’s crackdown on people’s lifestyle choices.

“Why are you so upset by people’s happiness … Why are you so obsessed with [displaying] sorrow and tears [instead of happiness],” Fayaz Zahed, a sociology professor at Tehran University, asked the authorities in a commentary. “The [Iranian] society is tired, worn out, and sad. Let it be happy for a little while, even if [the feeling] is a lie, make-believe, and fleeting one.”

The spirited seventy-year-old man, Sadegh Bagheri, known locally as Sadegh the Trumpeter, has become a symbol of suppressed happiness and resistance against the regime’s imposed lifestyle. Social media is flooded with videos of individuals, both young and old, mimicking his dance in solidarity.

A female fishmonger and her customers dancing in a market in Khuzestan

Dancing is considered debauchery by religious fundamentalists, categorizing it as wholly unacceptable behavior. After the Islamic Revolution, the term “synchronized movement” was introduced to replace the Arabic loanword “raqs,” which had been used for centuries in Persian vernacular and literature to refer to dance.

The fundamentalist religious establishment, closely connected to political hardliners, strongly opposes most forms of music, especially lively pop music associated with dance. Consequently, dancing has become a form of protest against the regime, with families of government violence victims sharing dance videos on social media.

Accordingly, dancing has come to serve as a form of protest against the regime and families of the victims of government violence often post videos of their dancing on social media.

Video clip showing dancing and singing of victims of government violence

Zahed pointed out that Iranian society today is even sadder, more depressed, and in crisis than two decades ago when he previously wrote about the lack of happiness due to the authorities’ lifestyle restrictions.

Earlier this month, Bagheri had a few thousand followers on Instagram. His followers are now increasing by the minute and have reached one million since Iran’s Internet Police shut down his Instagram account for a few days for sharing less than a dozen videos of his happy dancing and singing.

One of these videos that showed him singing in his native Gilaki language outside his fishmonger’s shop at the fish market of Rasht, a northern Iranian coastal city had recently become very popular on social media.

People dancing in the fish market of Tonekabon in support of Bagheri

Authorities removed all content from Bagheri’s page, along with a dozen other accounts sharing his videos, citing “criminal content” despite the absence of political or explicit lyrics in the songs. Reports suggested arrests, but Bagheri’s page has since been restored, and he claims he was not arrested.

“We have done something that the dancing and singing of fishmongers has come to be considered an act of resistance [against the regime],” the conservative Farhikhtegan newspaper wrote Monday in an editorial entitled “How To Make Guerillas Out Of Singers” about the many dance videos constantly being made and posted on social media in defiance of the authorities. “Honestly, this is a feat!” the editorial said sarcastically.

“Those who shut down Sadegh Booghi’s account are not familiar with the [social] mechanism. They are happy that they have fulfilled their [religious] duty because they seem to think they have brought the representative of global imperialism to its knees in the Rasht market [by stopping the dancing].

Source » iranintl