Middle East

Police crackdown on ‘rebel’Iranian water pistol fighters

TEHRAN: Iranian police have started cracking down on water fights springing up across the country with the arrests of several young men and women who took part in the latest organized water pistol battles.

A water fight in a Tehran park Friday, thought to have been organized through social media websites, was broken up by police who arrested several of the revelers, the semi-official Mehr news agency reported Sunday.

“Some of these rebels who intended to play water fight were arrested by police on Friday,” Ahmadreza Radan, Tehran’s deputy police chief, told Mehr.

Mingling between sexes outside marriage is banned in Iran and conservatives in the Islamic Republic have been scandalized by scenes of dozens of youngsters spraying each other with water in public.

Various websites have posted photographs of girls and boys in wet clothes throwing water balloons, firing water guns and splashing each other with water from bottles after the first water fights were reported in the capital a few weeks ago. The fights have since spread across the country despite warnings from authorities.

Conservatives say the water fights must be stamped out to prevent what they say is the corruption of Iranian youths, much of which is blamed on a deliberate “soft war” by the West conducted through television, films and pop music.

News website Khabar Online said police in the southern city of Shiraz arrested a man they said was organizing water fights though social networking site Facebook, which has been blocked by a government Internet filter but which many Iranians manage to access.

Six women and 11 men were arrested at a water fight last month in the Gulf port of Bandar Abbas but released after 24 hours, Mehr reported. 

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on September 05, 2011, on page 9.

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