Iranian police shut down today the Azadi Sports Centre in Bijar, Kurdistan province, upon the orders of the city’s Public Prosecutor under the pretext that participants in a ceremony performed a “mixed-gender [traditional] Kurdish dance”.

On 3 March, the Bijar City Council organised a cooking festival at Azadi Sports Centre and participants performed a Kurdish dance at the end of the ceremony, which was met with widespread objections by religious extremists in the city.

The city’s Public and Revolutionary Prosecutor’s Office filed a lawsuit against city council members, the sports centre’s manager, and Kurdish journalist Mohammad Aghaei after pressures from radical religious institutions and personalities.

In addition, the police shut down the centre on the orders of the city’s Public Prosecutor.

In the past few years, journalist Mohammad Aghaei has been repeatedly summoned and faced lawsuits for publishing news about Bijar in a satirical manner.