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Islamic law enforced in Iran prohibits public dancing. (file photo)

Iran has arrested a Culture Ministry official after people danced in public in the northeastern city of Mashhad, the judiciary said on April 19.

Deputy prosecutor Hassan Heydari told the judiciary’s Mizanonline news agency on April 19 that the head of the department of Islamic guidance in Mashhad was arrested for “undermining public decency and disrespecting the laws.”

A video of the April 17 event posted online showed young men and women dancing and enjoying a performance by a singer.

Hard-liners in Mashhad expressed outrage over the video and called for action against those who authorized the event.

Islamic law enforced in Iran prohibits public dancing. The mingling of unrelated men and women is also banned.

Mohsen Afshar, a spokesman for the shopping center where the event took place, told the semiofficial ISNA news agency that a monthly lottery is organized and a car given away to the lucky winner to attract customers.

The singer had the necessary "official permits to perform," Afshar said.

However, Heydari told the hard-line Tasnim news agency that the mall was not authorized to organize such events.

Mashhad is a conservative city where influential hard-liners have disrupted and banned concerts in the past.

The Friday Prayer leader in the city, Ayatollah Ahmad Allamolhoda, has told music-lovers, "Go somewhere else.”

In a separate development, Iran’s Interior Minister Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli requested a "comprehensive” investigation after a video emerged on social media allegedly showing a young woman being mistreated by at least one female morality police officer.

The woman was accused of not covering her hair sufficiently at a park in Tehran.

Vice President for Women and Family Affairs Masoumeh Ebtekar said on Twitter that police behavior toward the woman was "unjustified."

"Such harsh and irreligious behaviors are below the dignity of any human being," she tweeted.

Women in Iran can be arrested for failing to cover their hair in public. Dozens of them have been detained in recent months for protesting against the country’s strict dress code by removing their head scarves.

With reporting by AFP, dpa, AP, the BBC, and Mizanonline
Maksim Borodin of Yekaterinburg died on April 15 of injuries sustained three days earlier when he fell from the window of his fifth-floor apartment.

The United States has joined media watchdogs in calling on Russian authorities to thoroughly investigate the death of Russian investigative journalist Maksim Borodin last week.

The United States is “shocked” by the death of Borodin “under mysterious circumstances,” Harry Kamian, the new U.S. charge d’affaires to the Organization for Cooperation and Security in Europe, said in a statement delivered on April 19 to the OSCE Permanent Council in Vienna.

“We note that Borodin’s colleagues stated he showed no signs of depression, and they expressed doubt that he committed suicide,” Kamian also said.

He added that “the majority of the killings of journalists in Russia remain unsolved, which has a detrimental effect on media freedom in the country.”

Borodin of Yekaterinburg died on April 15 of injuries sustained three days earlier when he fell from the window of his fifth-floor apartment.

Officially, his death was being investigated as a suicide.

Borodin, 32, regularly wrote on crime and corruption for the independent news website Novy Den. In recent weeks, he wrote extensively about the deaths in February of Russian mercenaries fighting in Syria, identifying several fighters from the Urals city of Asbest who had been killed.

In a statement on April 16, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) said Russian authorities must “consider the possibility that [Borodin] was killed in retribution for his reporting.”

"We call on Russian authorities to launch an effective, fair, and transparent investigation into the circumstances surrounding Maksim Borodin's death and not to rule out foul play," CPJ Europe and Central Asia Program Coordinator Nina Ognianova said.

"Russia has a record of brushing aside suspicious deaths of members of the press," she added.

The OSCE representative on freedom of the media, Harlem Desir, on April 13 also called for a “full, transparent, and independent” probe into Borodin’s death.

Desir also urged Russian authorities to bring the perpetrators and masterminds of a brutal attack against the editor of the Oblastnaya Gazeta newspaper in Yekaterinburg on April 12 to justice.

Dmitry Polyanin was hospitalized with multiple injuries after being beaten by at least two assailants with metal bars, he said.

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