Iran stepped up pressure on celebrities and journalists on Thursday following a wave of protests led by women Mahsa Amini’s death sparked outrage, after she was arrested by the Islamic Republic’s ethics police. According to the Norway-based Iran Human Rights Organization, 83 people have been killed in Iranian security forces’ crackdown on protesters and their supporters.

Filmmakers, athletes, musicians and actors have supported the demonstrations, and many saw it as a signal when the national soccer team remained in their black tracksuits before a match against Senegal in Vienna.

“We will take action against celebrities who fan the flames of riots,” Tehran’s provincial governor Mohsen Mansouri said, according to the ISNA news agency.

Gholamhossein Mohseni Ejei, the head of Iran’s judiciary, similarly charged that “those who became famous due to the support of the system have joined the enemy in difficult circumstances.”

Cousin of Mahsa Amini, the Iranian woman whose death sparked deadly protests, speaks out


The warning comes after nearly two weeks of protests in Iran and a deadly crackdown marked by “brutal violence by security forces,” according to the human rights group Amnesty International.

Public outrage erupted after the death of Amini, a 22-year-old Kurdish woman, on September 16 after being arrested on charges of violating Iran’s strict rules for women to wear the hijab headscarf and modest clothing.

“Woman, Life, Freedom!” Protesters have since chanted, in Iran’s largest demonstrations in nearly three years, in which women burned their headscarves and cut their hair. Parallel protests have been held in major cities around the world, often in front of Iranian embassies and consulates.

Protests continue in Iran as crackdown escalates


President Ibrahim Raisi warned that despite the “sorrow and sorrow” over Amini’s death, public security is “the red line of the Islamic Republic of Iran and no one is allowed to break the law and create chaos.”

Iran on Thursday arrested journalist Elahe Mohammadi, who had covered Amini’s funeral, in what her lawyer said was the latest in a growing number of journalists being detained. Police have also arrested journalist Nilofar Hamedi of the reformist Shargh daily, who helped expose the case to the world by going to the hospital where Amini was in a coma.

The Committee to Protect Journalists said on Thursday that three additional journalists – Farshid Ghorbanpour, Arya Jafri and Mobin Baloch – had been arrested, bringing the total number of jailed to 28.

Intelligence officers from the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps arrested 50 members of an “organized network” behind the “riot” in the holy Shiite city of Qom, the guards said, according to the Fars news agency.

Among those arrested were some Iranian celebrities, including Shervin Hajipour, a musician and singer who was little known before the unrest broke out. He posted a video of himself singing a song made up entirely of messages from protest tweets, which garnered millions of views on Instagram before he was arrested and forced to remove it from the platform.

Other Instagram users reposted Hajipur’s song in support.

A former professional soccer player was also detained for supporting the protest, state media said.

“Former Persepolis FC player Hossein Mahini was arrested by order of judicial authorities for supporting and promoting riots on his social media pages,” state news agency IRNA said.

Global demos in protest of Iran highlighted the economic and social pain of nations
A protester wears a t-shirt depicting a character with a haircut during a protest over the death of Mahsa Amini, outside the Iranian consulate building in Istanbul, Turkey, on September 29, 2022.

Erhan Demirtas/Bloomberg/Getty

On Thursday, Tehran’s provincial governor, Mohsen Mansoori, warned celebrities against coming out in support of the protests.

“We will take action against celebrities who fan the flames of riots,” ISNA news agency quoted him as saying.

London-based Amnesty International criticized Iran’s “unlawful use of force and widespread practices of brutal violence by security forces”.

It included the use of live ammunition and metal pellets, severe beatings and sexual violence against women, “under the cover of deliberate internet and mobile disruptions.”

“So far dozens of people, including children, have been killed and hundreds injured,” said Agnes Callamard, the group’s secretary general.

At least 75 people have been killed in the unrest in Iran since Mahsa Amini’s death


Iran’s Fars news agency said “around 60” people had been killed, while the Oslo-based group Iran Human Rights reported at least 76 dead.

Iran has blamed outside forces for the protests and launched cross-border missile and drone strikes on Wednesday that killed 13 people in Iraq’s Kurdistan region, accusing armed groups there of fueling the unrest.

The United States on Thursday separately announced the reimposition of sanctions on Tehran’s oil sales, saying one of its citizens had been killed in an Iranian strike.

Iran’s economy has been crippled for years by punishing sanctions imposed by the West over Iran’s controversial nuclear program.

On Thursday, German Foreign Minister Annalena Berbock said she was “doing everything” to push for EU sanctions against “those who beat women and shoot protesters in the name of religion”.

The Iranian government has tried to defuse the crisis.

Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian said he told Western diplomats at a recent United Nations meeting that the protests were “not a big deal” for the stability of the clerical state.

“There will be no regime change in Iran,” he told National Public Radio in New York on Wednesday. “Don’t play with the emotions of the Iranian people.”

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