Supermarket’s 'splits challenge' too sexy for Iranian authorities
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What started out as a simple and fun marketing idea during the coronavirus outbreak got one shop in Iran in serious trouble with the authorities. In Bandar Abbas, a city in southern Iran, the local supermarket chain Tara launched a challenge: anyone able to do the splits could have a box of face masks for free.
The “splits challenge” was a marketing stunt to entertain residents in Bandar Abbas during the Covid-19 crisis in Iran, according to a press release published by Tara Market. However, videos of women performing the splits in Tara shops were deemed too sexy by Iran’s ultra-conservative authorities.
This video was published on the shop’s Instagram account and the owner’s page, but has since been taken down.
The chief prosecutor of Hormozgan Province Ali Salehi called the splits challenge “immoral” and “an insult to human dignity” in an April 15 press release. He announced that the the local prosecutor had filed charges against Rahim Azhdari, the owner of the Tara supermarket chain.
In the Islamic Republic’s constitution, it is Iran’s supreme leader Ali Khamenei who appoints the chief of the country’s judiciary system - as a result, Iran’s courts are dominated by ultra-conservative judges.
This photo was published on the shop’s Instagram account and the owner’s page, but has since been taken down.
Rahim Azhdari apologised, in a post on his Instagram page on the same day, saying that his online marketing team had made a mistake. He also pointed out that national television had broadcast similar images of women performing physical feats on talent shows. All of the photos and videos of the challenge have since been deleted.
It’s not the first time that lighthearted videos have earned a swift backlash from the country’s authorities.
In May 2014, Iranian police arrested six people after they posted a video of themselves dancing to Pharrell Williams’ song “Happy”, taking part in what was a global trend at the time.