Iran Cracks Down on a Major Threat: Water-Gun Fights

Courtney Subramanian – Time Magazine September 5, 2011

With the sting of the Arab Spring still lingering, it takes nothing more than a water gun to alarm governments these days.

Young people splashing each other with water apparently translates to civil unrest in Iran, where a number of people were arrested over the weekend for engaging in water fights in a Tehran public park, the Associated Press reports.

“This is not simply a game with water. This act is being guided from abroad,” Gholam Hossein Mohseni, an Iranian spokesman of the judiciary reportedly said, inferring that Iranian opposition groups were the culprit.

Mohseni told conservative news website Tabnak that detainees were deceived,  “and some said they came out based on a call from a counterrevolutionary,” according to the Associated Press. Some detainees also claimed they were given water guns and were “motivated by ‘foreign invitation.’”

The recent mass arrest is the culmination of a summer-long effort to quell the widespread flash mobs of water fights around the country. The first occurrence in July at Tehran’s Water and Fire Park led to the arrest of dozens of men and women.

While these young Iranians are merely playing with water, government authorities view it as playing with fire. Aside from nearby uprisings, the Iranian government remains cautious of any type of assembly since the 2009 protests over the re-election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Demonstrators decried a rigged election and though they were overpowered, their protest was the most significant challenge to the regime in recent history, leaving authorities paranoid. But while the possibility of unrest is more prevalent than ever, even some conservative clerics argue that young people are just reacting to harsh constrictions the government places upon them.

Until the youth start loading squirt guns with live ammunition, what’s a little harm in getting wet?


Comment – September 6, 2011

Interesting double standard here because while TIME implies that Tehran’s attitude to water pistol fights is the result of a repressive narrow mindedness, it fails to mention that during recent unrest in England authorities did EXACTLY the same thing there.

When an unnamed 20-year-old in Colchester used his Blackberry to call local residents to a citywide water pistol fight BRITSH POLICE PROMPTLY ARRESTED HIM. Just like their Iranian counterparts did in Tehran. 

There is no mention of this in the above report. So why report on it if it happens in Iran but not in the UK?

Is this the result of simple ignorance maybe? After all maybe TIME simply did not know of the arrest of the man in Colchester, although it was widely reported.

Or could it be that TIME is simply taking the opportunity to portray Iran as a narrow-minded, oppressive regime?

We are pretty sure that these water pistol shootouts are quite harmless, if a little soggy. But why these double standards?

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