Footage of Iranian Schoolchildren Dancing to Pop Song Sparks Controversy

The chairman of Iran’s Council of Religious Committees, Nowshad Nowshadi, has called for the impeachment of Minister of Education Mohammad Bathaei and the creation of ethical committees in elementary and high schools.

Mr. Nowshadi’s actions are in response to a series of video clips on social media that are allegedly showing girls in elementary schools singing and dancing to a new pop song titled “Gentleman” by the U.S.-based Iranian artist Sasan Heydari-Yafteh, whose stage name is Sasy Mankan.

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“The authorities should prosecute all guilty parties to the full extent of the law,” Nowshadi noted. “We should not normalize such inappropriate behavior in our schools by promoting vulgar pop videos. We must prevent our schools from becoming a venue for underground DJs.”

Nowshadi added: “We expect Majlis [Iranian Parliament] deputies to floor a proposal to impeach the education minister at their next open session. They need to send a strong and clear message condemning such crude behavior. We must create religious committees in our schools. People have the right to know why improper music and songs are played in our schools.”

“We have been witnessing a dangerous cultural movement that aims to undermine our Islamic values, derail our education system and corrupt our young and impressionable students,” Nowshadi warned.

Meanwhile, 51 branches of the Student Basij Organization have written to Minister Bathaei, urging him to discipline the principals at the schools where the videos were allegedly taken. The letter said: “Please identify the principals at these schools as soon as possible and reprimand them according to the ministry’s guideline.”

Many people have criticized Deputy Majlis Speaker Ali Motahari for calling on Minister Bathaei to discipline the school principals instead of spending his time tackling real issues such as unemployment, hyperinflation and high cost of living.

Sassy Mankan posted a message on his Instagram page which said: “Mr. Motahari, here is a challenge for you. Play my song ‘Gentleman’ and turn the volume up, and I guarantee you cannot stop dancing. I bet you will urge me to invite everyone to get up and dance. It seems you have neglected more pressing problems like shortage of meat, high cost of goods and instead have issued a warning about my song ‘Gentleman,’ Really????”

While some people have shared the clips of children singing and dancing on social media, others have supported calls for greater supervisions in schools.

@AmirtohidF tweeted: “On the 40th anniversary of Revolution, the anniversary of the death of martyred Motahari and International Teachers Day we have been watching video clips of school children dancing to the pop song ‘Gentleman’ and shouting the lyrics ‘Our leader is a gentleman, this lady is my true love!!’ Our educational institutions must know that their budgets are impure.”

@ma4z863h8 posted footage contrasting images of Iranian students dancing to Sasy’s song and American children reciting the pledge of allegiance to the flag and wrote: “Compare the morning assembly in American and Iranian schools. Aren’t these signs of cultural infiltration? We must hold the education minister accountable.”

Others, however, posted light-hearted and funny messages.

@m_afkham posted footage of children singing and dancing and wrote: “The office for safeguarding Sasy Mankan’s interests proudly presents.”

[Translated from Persian by Fardine Hamidi]