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Monday, 8 July, 2002, 12:31 GMT 13:31 UK
Iran court slaps ban on dancer
By Jim Muir
In Tehran
An Iranian dancer who has been living in Los Angeles has been given a 10-year suspended prison sentence in Iran on charges of corrupting the nation's youth.

Mr Khordadian's performances were beamed into Iran on TV. Picture: Khordadian.com
Mohammed Khordadian was visiting relatives in Iran when he was arrested.
He left Iran 22 years ago and had been making a living giving lessons in Iranian traditional dance and performing for the large Iranian community in California.
But some of his performances were beamed into Iran by TV stations run by Iranian exiles and his videos also found their way onto the domestic Iranian market.
Wedding ban
This made him a popular figure among young Iranians, especially the girls.
After learning that his mother had died, Mr Khordadian returned to Iran and spent a couple of months visiting relatives and friends.
But he was arrested at the airport when he tried to leave.

Students have been alarmed by street patrols
After several months in jail he has finally been released, following sentence by a Tehran court.
It found him guilty of enticing and inciting the nation's youth to corruption.
In addition to the suspended jail sentence, he was banned from leaving the country for 10 years, banned from attending weddings for three years, except for those of close relations, and banned from giving dance lessons ever again.
Mr Khordadian's lawyer argued unsuccessfully that his client had done nothing wrong and that the alleged offences had in any case been committed abroad.
As for the 10 years' country arrest, he said that living in Iran should be regarded as an honour not a punishment.
Although many Iranians dance at private parties, especially weddings, the ruling clerical establishment frowns on such behaviour, especially when it involves the mingling of the sexes.
For unmarried people, even to appear in public together is a punishable offence, though it is only sporadically enforced.
But many young people in Tehran have been alarmed by the recent appearance on the streets of a tough new police unit, equipped with smart black four-wheeled drive vehicles.



See also:

23 Feb 00 | Middle East
Iran's youth: Force for change
23 Feb 00 | Middle East
Iranian women seek equality
Internet links:

President Khatami
Islamic Republic News Agency
Khordadian.com

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