A photo of a couple in Iran kissing in the street has gone viral as a unique and beautiful act of defiance as the government ramps up its crackdown on protests nationwide.
The photo shows a man and a woman kissing in the street, surrounded by cars. Their faces are obscured, but the woman is not wearing a veil – an even more overt act of defiance that refers to the alleged crime that sparked the protests in the first place.
“There’s a reason this photo has gone viral on social media,” Lisa Daftari, Middle East expert and managing editor of The Foreign Desk, told Fox News Digital.
“This photo symbolizes so many aspects of the current revolution in Iran. A woman who is bravely defying the hijab laws, a couple who are breaking the strict Sharia law which prohibits kissing in public, particularly if they are not married, and bravely standing in the middle of traffic to get their message out to the world,” he explained.
US SANCTIONS ON IRANIAN STATE MEDIA OFFICIALS FOR COMPLICITY IN TEHRAN’S SUPPRESSION OF CITIZENS
The protests began in mid-September after the country’s morality police arrested Mahsa Amini, 22, for not wearing the hijab properly. Police rushed her to hospital an hour later with what appeared to be injuries sustained from a beating, and she died a few days later.
Anti-hijab sentiment was a clear unifying symbol for protesters with women taking off their hijabs and getting their hair cut in the early days of the protests.
IRAN COULD USE MASS EXECUTIONS TO SUFFER COUNTRYWIDE ANTI-HIJAB PROTESTS, HUMAN RIGHTS GROUP WARNS
“The Iranian youth are incredibly excited to let the world know that they are not going to back down,” Daftari said. “They are fighting for every freedom.”
The protests have now spread to over 140 towns and cities and have lasted for over two months. Iranian security forces have killed at least 326 protesters, according to Iran’s Norwegian human rights NGO, with some groups estimating the total could be higher.
WATCH: IRAN’S SECURITY FORCES TARGET YOUNG PROTESTANTS WITH INCREASINGLY VIOLENT REPRESSION
The regime took the crackdown a step further by handing down death sentences for alleged crimes committed during the protests.
The first death sentence involved arson committed against government buildings during protests, and on Tuesday a Revolutionary Court handed down a second death sentence for allegedly “terrorizing people on the street using a bladed weapon, setting fire to a citizen’s motorcycle and attacking a person with a knife,” according to the judiciary website Mizan Online.
CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP
Also, according to the New York Times, Iranian security forces have begun targeting teenagers and children during the protests. Officers allegedly detained a 14-year-old boy alongside adult prisoners and beat a 13-year-old girl while she was in plain clothes.