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Iran unveils Islamic dating app to encourage ‘lasting marriage’

Called Hamdam, Farsi for ‘companion,’ service is only state-sanctioned platform of its kind in the Islamic Republic, where other platforms exist but are illegal

Illustrative: Newly married Iranian couple Mohammad Davoodi, 28, and his wife Mahsa Asadzadeh, 20, pose for a photo in front of a wedding dress shop in downtown Tehran, Iran, on July 3, 2019. (AP/Ebrahim Noroozi)
Illustrative: Newly married Iranian couple Mohammad Davoodi, 28, and his wife Mahsa Asadzadeh, 20, pose for a photo in front of a wedding dress shop in downtown Tehran, Iran, on July 3, 2019. (AP/Ebrahim Noroozi)

TEHRAN — Iran on Monday unveiled an Islamic dating application aimed at facilitating “lasting and informed marriage” for its youth, state television reported.

Called Hamdam — Farsi for “companion” — the service allows users to “search for and choose their spouse,” the broadcaster said.

It is the only state-sanctioned platform of its kind in the Islamic Republic, according to Iran’s cyberspace police chief, Colonel Ali Mohammad Rajabi.

While dating apps are popular in Iran, Rajabi said that all other platforms apart from Hamdam are illegal.

Developed by the Tebyan Cultural Institute, part of Iran’s Islamic Propaganda Organization, Hamdam’s website claims it uses “artificial intelligence” to find matches “only for bachelors seeking permanent marriage and a single spouse.”

Tebyan head Komeil Khojasteh, speaking at the unveiling, said family values were threatened by outside forces.

“Family is the devil’s target, and (Iran’s enemies) seek to impose their own ideas” on it, he said, adding that the app helps create “healthy” families.

A worker adjusts a display of wedding dresses in downtown Tehran, Iran, July 3, 2019. (AP/Ebrahim Noroozi)

According to Hamdam’s website, users have to verify their identity and go through a “psychology test” before browsing.

When a match is made, the app “introduces the families together with the presence of service consultants,” who will “accompany” the couple for four years after marriage.

Registration is free, as Hamdam has “an independent revenue model,” the website said without explaining further.

Iran’s authorities, including Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, have warned several times against the country’s rising age of marriage and declining birth rates.

In March, Iran’s conservative-dominated parliament passed a bill titled “population growth and supporting families.”

It mandates the government to offer significant financial incentives for marriage and to encourage people to have more than two children, while limiting access to abortion.

The law awaits approval by the Guardian Council, which is tasked with checking that bills are compatible with Islamic law and the constitution.

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