A LARGE group of individuals taking part in a private yoga session have been arrested by strict Sharia-loving police in Iran, sparking outbursts of fury across the nation’s social media community.
The innocent men and women were arrested in the northern city of Gorgan, where they were apparently taking part in a mixed class. Local justice department official Massoud Soleimani said the instructor, who was also arrested, had ‘no licence’ to run the class and had advertised the event ‘illegally’ on Instagram.
He also said that those taking part were wearing “inappropriate clothing” and had “behaved abnormally” and that the security forces had been monitoring the home for some time before the arrests, the Tasnim news agency reported.
While revealing the arrests, Mr Soleimani also lambasted the “lack of surveillance of activities” on social media in the country.
The story of the arrests has caused uproar online leading to the topic to become a top social media trend..
One user tweeted: “The Iranian authorities think even the word yoga is problematic based on the Sharia.”
Referring to the recent deployment of US warships to the region another added: “An establishment that finds even yoga harmful does not need the USS Abraham Lincoln warship to end its existence.”
Others say they have cancelled their plans to sign up to yoga classes following the arrests in Gorgan.
Someone confirmed in a tweet: “I guess the authorities need to tell us what exactly we are allowed to do in this country.”
The Asian discipline of yoga has become popular in Iran in recent years, but mixed sports are banned by the theocratic nation’s backward Islamic authorities.
While the practice of yoga is not officially banned, teaching at a professional level is, and religious hardliners – known as Mullahs – bemoan the “corrupting influence” of the spiritual activity.
The yoga arrests come just a day after the social media accounts of three prominent Iranian street musicians were reportedly seized by authorities in the country for publishing “criminal content”.
A notice posted on each of the accounts on Thursday read: “By the order of the respectable judicial authority, this web address has been seized due to publishing criminal content and those involved in the crimes noted in the case are being prosecuted.”
We hope that the Iranian court dealing with those detained will find some flexibility in the legal system of Sharia and set them free. We won’t, however, be holding our breath.