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Iran: Officials arrest 6 for teaching Zumba

Government authorities arrested six individuals in Iran for allegedly teaching “Western dance moves,” including Zumba, and creating videos which they uploaded and posted on social media. The six, four men and two women, were reportedly detained by Iran’s Revolutionary Guard officers in the town of Sharhoud in the northeastern Semnan province late Tuesday, according to Iranian media. “A team teaching Western dance moves to boys and girls and uploading clips to social media applications such as Telegram and Instagram have been arrested,” Hamid Damghani, a local Guards commander said, adding that the group also “sought to promote an alternative lifestyle including not wearing the Hijab,” a compulsory Muslim head covering for women in Iran since the 1979 Islamic revolution. Zumba, a Latin American dance and fitness program, has become popular globaly in recent years, with estimates of 15 million people taking Zumba classes across 180 countries each week. More recently, Zumba classes were outlawed by Iran’s “Sports for All Federation” for being “contrary to Islamic precepts.” The ban has been met with stiff resistance by everyday Iranians, including instructors who have continued teaching classes despite the law. “If they ban Zumba, we will teach it under a different name,” a gym instructor told Iranian media in June. Coincidentally, State TV also reported Wednesday the arrest of 64 “half naked” youths who were dancing and consuming alcohol at a pool party near the city of Isfahan. Despite this past June’s reelection of Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani, often described as the ‘moderate’ candidate within the country’s rogue regime, the country has continued a path of hardline conservative rule, curbing many everyday lifestyle freedoms such as Western clothing, hairstyles, dance, music and online social media posts. Back in 2014, six men and women were arrested after they uploaded a video of themselves dancing to American singer-songwriter Pharrell William’s “Happy” hit. The video was part of a global campaign launched by pop star Pharrell Williams and was viewed by more than a million people on YouTube. The group was sentence to 91 lashes each, given suspended jail terms and were later forced to apologize.
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