Despite many challenges, Iranians are still participating in the Ice Bucket Challenge.

For the past month, people all over the world have participated in the Ice Bucket Challenge, a viral campaign launched to raise money for research into a cure for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), a rare terminal illness. But for Iranians eager to dump cold water on their friends in the name of charity, there’s a snag.

The rules of the game are as follows: within 24 hours of being challenged by friends on social media, participants have to film themselves pouring ice into a bucket of water and then dumping it on themselves.

The resulting squeals are fun for your friends to see, but the original point is to raise money for research into a cure for ALS (also called motor neurone disease): the participant is expected to donate $10 if he has poured the ice water over his head or donate $100 if he has not.

Participants have included people in countries all across the world and many celebrities—ranging from former US president George W Bush and Scotland's First Minister, Alex Salmond, to the singer Kylie Minogue.

The campaign has even travelled to Iran, where the Internet is censored. Yet these and other challenges have not prevented young Iranians eager to participate in the global campaign and, let’s face it, to see their friends and neighbours showered in icy water.

Aghili is an Iranian singer who took part in the Ice Bucket Challenge. In the video, he explains that he will donate to Mahak, an Iranian NGO that helps children with cancer.

Fatemeh Motamed Aria is an Iranian actress who took part in the Ice Bucket Challenge.

'We’re trying to respect the humanitarian purpose behind pouring cold water on your head as best we can.'

Rouzbeh is a mining engineer living in Tehran. He recently did the Ice Bucket Challenge, and told us how Iranians have had to create their own new spin on the charitable—and teeth-chattering—challenge.

Sanctions by Western governments mean that we are not able to transfer money to the original NGO that invented the Ice Bucket challenge.

That’s why we decided to do it to raise money for an Iranian foundation for cancer research and a local NGO for children with cancer. There is a humanitarian purpose behind pouring cold water on your head and we are trying to observe it as best we can.

It seems to me like Iranians are always excluded—either by our own government and foreign governments. Iranian authorities try to create a gap between us and rest of the world but satellites and especially social media make it impossible for them to isolate us. Indeed, it makes Iranian young people even more likely to participate in viral events like the Ice Bucket Challenge or recordings of “Happy” by Pharrell Williams because they want to be part of international society, even if it means acting in opposition to the government. We just want to live like people in any other city in the world.
  Arsalan Kazemi is a player on Iran’s national basketball team. Despite sanctions preventing Iranians from donating money abroad, he decided to participate, and to donate money within Iran.