Both boys and girls were involved in the organised water fight in Tehran, where gender segregation applies across all public life. (Amir/Demotix/Corbis)

Iranian youths arrested for public water pistol fight in Tehran

In the 40C heat of an Iranian summer, what better way to have fun and stay cool than a water fight with friends? In the Islamic republic, however, things are a bit more complicated.

For one group of boys and girls, their game turned serious when they were arrested for taking part in a water pistol fight in a park in the capital, Tehran.

Last Friday hundreds of enthusiasts used plastic pistols and empty bottles to play in the ironically named Garden of Water and Fire for hours and, to the surprise of many, without police interference. But the event – organised on Facebook – prompted criticism from conservatives when pictures of it emerged online days later.

Iran’s state television broadcast a programme on Wednesday showing some of the arrested participants with their backs to the camera, confessing to have played with water and using plastic pistols.

"We had been invited on internet to come and play with water," one girl said. A boy added: "It was very intimate; it was much more intimate than it should have been."

The head of Tehran’s morality police, Ahmad Roozbehani said: “A mixed-gender event took place on Friday … They had been asked to bring water pistol toys, which most of them had in hand … they acted against social norms.”

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Reminds me of some country where gathering in public spaces and eating ice cream is also forbidden. Just eating ice cream! Imagine that!

Seriously, repressive regimes can be such killjoys!