TEHRAN (AlArabiya.net, AFP)
Iran has arrested more than 100 "Satan-worshippers" in a raid on a concert in the southern city of Shiraz where people were drinking alcohol and "sucking blood," a newspaper reported on Wednesday.
"One hundred and four members of a Satan-worshipping group were arrested at a party and immoral concert in Shiraz (on Sunday)," local Revolutionary Guards chief Abbas Hamidi was quoted as saying by Jam-e Jam newspaper.
"The session was held in a garden outside Shiraz and the Satanist ceremony was broadcast live to the world via the Internet," he said, adding the arrest was made by members of the Islamist Basij militia linked to the Guards.
"These people drank alcohol, hurt themselves and sucked blood," Hamidi said. "They even bow to Satan in some ceremonies."
Iranian authorities sometimes link hard rock and heavy metal music and their icons with devil worship. Alcohol is banned in the Islamic republic.
Jam-e Jam carried pictures of drum sets and amplifiers seized in the raid and a group of young men photographed after the arrest sitting on the floor of an official-looking building with their backs to the camera.
It said some of the detainees sported tattoos and body art resembling the wings of birds and car emblems.
Hamidi said Basij intelligence forces operating under the Revolutionary Guards had put "foreign-linked groups and their venues" under surveillance for a year before making Sunday's arrests.
Over the past two years Iranian police and security officials have warned against the emergence of "Satanist" cults accused of corrupting the young, amid a tough nationwide crackdown on "unIslamic" attire and behavior.
In September 2008, a senior police chief said members of the so-called cults would wear "broken-cross and skeleton necklaces and rings, drink alcohol and dance in their ceremonies."
"They believe they should defy religions, especially Islam, do as they want and drag the world into anarchy," deputy police chief Hossein Zolfaghari said.
In 2007 police arrested 230 people in a raid on an illegal indie rock concert in a garden near Tehran and several reports branded the party-goers as Satan-worshippers.