Iran has a dating problem. Tinder (whose LA-based founders are themselves Iranian-American) requires Facebook, which the authorities try to block in Iran, therefore not really an option. Although, VPN access does make it possible to swipe left or right far (or at least far enough) from the prying eyes of modesty police and the Islamic regime.
What about Muzmatch – the London-based, hijabi-friendly Muslim dating app (“walis/guardians supported”)? – Not so big in Tehran.
And yet, Iran’s underground dating scene is flourishing. Young Tehranis are accessing Tinder and social media in spite of the many restrictions, and cafes and restaurants are popping up to cater to the demand for dating spots outside of clandestine house parties.
So with dating fast becoming a sphere of defiance and resistance to the restrictions and censorship imposed by the Iranian regime, it’s no surprise that said regime is trying to wrest control of it back from Iranian singles on the prowl.
How, you ask? With a “matchmaking” platform of its own – a website with an official stamp of approval, which utilizes modern technology to facilitate “traditional” marriages (not a word on “mut’a” or temporary marriage, which can be likened to a Shi’a-sanctioned form of prostitution) without challenging the strict social and rigid religious structures of the Islamic republic.
Will this “definitely-not-a-dating-site” end what is termed by the Islamic Republic’s authorities as “illicit unions” between unmarried men and women (not to mention same-sex relationships) – or will it, in all likelihood, be shunned by them in another show of defiance, exposing the growing futility of the Iranian government’s attempts to control the beliefs and life choices of its citizens in a global, uber-connected era, in which youths are more likely to ask Tinder to “make them a match” rather than Ayatollah Khamenei?