Iran has stepped up pressure on celebrities and journalists following a wave of women-led protests sparked by outrage over Mahsa Amini’s death after she was arrested by the Islamic Republic’s morality police.
Filmmakers, athletes, musicians and actors have supported the demonstrations, and many saw it as a signal when the national football 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 ISNA news agency.
Gholamhossein Mohseni Ejei, the head of Iran’s judiciary, also alleged that “those who became famous due to the support of the system have joined the enemy under difficult circumstances”.
The warning comes after nearly two weeks of protests and deadly crackdowns in Iran, which human rights group Amnesty International called “brutal violence by security forces”.
Iran Human Rights, a Norway-based group, said on Thursday that at least 83 people, including children, had been killed during the crackdown.
Public outrage erupted after Amini, a 22-year-old Kurdish woman, died in custody on September 16, three days after she was arrested on charges of violating Iran’s strict rules for women wearing hijab headscarves and modest clothing.
“Woman, Life, Liberty!” Protesters have since chanted, in Iran’s largest demonstrations in nearly three years, in which women burned their headscarves and cut their hair.
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 complained to Britain and Norway on Thursday that France had “interfered” in its internal affairs over a statement it made in support of the sanctions.
Solidarity demonstrations with Iranian women have been held around the world, and rallies are planned in 70 cities on Saturday.
A demonstration broke out in the Afghan capital, Kabul, where women rallied outside the Iranian embassy with banners reading: “Iran has risen, it’s our turn!” and “From Kabul to Iran, say no to dictatorship!”
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 detained journalists.
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 journalists, Farshid Ghorbanpur, Arya Jafri and Mobin Baloch, had been arrested, bringing the total number of jail terms to 28.
London-based Amnesty International criticized Iran’s “unlawful use of force and widespread practices of brutal violence by security forces”.
It said it included the use of live ammunition and metal pellets, severe beatings and sexual violence against women, all “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.
Iran has blamed outside forces for the protests and on Wednesday launched cross-border missile and drone strikes that killed 13 people in Iraq’s Kurdistan region, accusing armed groups there of fueling the unrest.
On Thursday, German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said she was “doing everything” for EU sanctions against “those who kill women and shoot protesters in the name of religion”.