Screen grab from a phone video sent to VOA Persian by a dog walker who said the man on the left punched him for walking a dog in Tehran’s Ab-o-Atash park Thursday. The woman in the black chador is the wife of the alleged assailant.
Screen grab from a phone video sent to VOA Persian by a dog walker who said the man on the left punched him for walking a dog in Tehran’s Ab-o-Atash park Thursday. The woman in the black chador is the wife of the alleged assailant.

A video clip filmed by Iranian man who says another man punched him for walking a dog in Tehran in violation of Islamist rules has sparked outrage from Iranian social media users.

The man who shot the phone video sent it to Masih Alinejad, the freelance host of VOA Persian’s Tablet program, Thursday and said the incident happened earlier in the day in Tehran’s Ab-o-Atash park.

Alinejad posted a shortened version of the clip on her Instagram account early Friday, drawing more than 2 million views and 21,000 Farsi-language comments within the first 18 hours.

The video begins with the dog walker, who asked not to be named, filming his scuffle with the other man, who he said punched him. The alleged assailant can be seen lunging at the holder of the smartphone.

The clip then jumps to a later scene of the dog walker returning to the park and confronting the man and the man’s wife, who is wearing a black chador. The dog walker told Alinejad that after the scuffle, he left his dog with another person and returned to the park to confront the couple on film so he could draw attention to the incident on social media.

In the remainder of the video, the dog walker approaches the alleged assailant and repeatedly accuses the man of punching him in the face. Neither the alleged assailant nor his wife dispute the accusation. But both of them criticize the dog walker, with the man saying he called the police because walking dogs is a crime, and the woman saying dogs are dirty and she wanted to keep her children away from them.

Iran’s Islamist laws deem dogs to be unclean animals that cannot be kept as pets or walked in public.

The man who filmed Thursday's scuffle in a Tehran
The man who filmed Thursday's scuffle in a Tehran park says his alleged assailant punched him in the face for walking this pet dog, seen here in an undated photo.

Most of those commenting on the Instagram post expressed anger about the assault on the dog walker. Many also criticized the Islamist ban on pet dogs, saying dogs are not unclean. They said they believe such laws empower Islamists to assault secular Iranians who choose to have a different lifestyle.

There was no reaction to Thursday’s incident from Iranian state media or authorities by late Friday.

This report was produced in collaboration with VOA’s Persian Service.