Dozens of Iranian students given 99 lashes for attending party that included women

The punishments, meted out in Qazvin, about 90 miles northwest of the capital, are part of a wider crackdown by an Iranian judiciary dominated by Muslim hardliners

More than 30 college students were arrested, interrogated and within 24 hours were each given 99 lashes for attending a graduation party that included men and women, Iran's judiciary has announced.

The punishments, which were believed to be part of a wider crackdown by an Iranian judiciary dominated by Muslim hardliners, were meted out in Qazvin, about 90 miles northwest of the capital, the New York Times has reported.

They were carried out in record time, Mizan, a news agency affiliated with the judiciary, reported on Thursday, citing the city’s prosecutor.

The Qazvin prosecutor, Esmail Sadeghi Niaraki, said that more than 30 female and male students were arrested while “dancing and jubilating” after the authorities received a report that a party attended both by men and women was being held in a villa on the outskirts of Qazvin.

The women were described as “half naked,” - meaning they were not wearing Islamic coverings, scarves and long coats. 

An arrest warrant was issued, he said, and the defendants were sentenced to 99 lashes after being questioned.

"We hope this will be a lesson for those who break Islamic norms in private places,” Mr. Niaraki said.

Mixed-gender parties, dancing and the consumption of alcohol are illegal in Iran, although they have become common over the past decade, especially in cities.

Lashings have been used regularly as a punishment since the Islamic revolution of 1979, but in recent years the practice has been used more as a threat than an actual punishment.

The arrests came a day after state news media reported that the authorities had raided parties in Kerman and at a “singles home” in Semnan, both provincial capitals.