Oscar-winning Iranian director Asghar Farhadi says he “stands with” his The Salesman and About Elly star Taraneh Alidoosti after the actress was arrested over the weekend.
Iranian state media reported that Alidoosti was detained after she posted a comment on Instagram expressing solidarity with Mohsen Shekari, the first person to have been officially executed by the Tehran regime for crimes allegedly committed during the anti-government protests that have shaken Iran for months.
In a post on his official Instagram account, Farhadi called out Alidoosti’s arrest, saying if “showing support [for protestors] is a crime, tens of millions of people of this country are criminals.” He called on the authorities to release her, along with Iranian directors Jafar Panahi and Mohammad Rasoulof, “and all the other lesser-known prisoners whose only crime is the attempt for a better life.”
Panahi, Rasoulof, and director Mostafa Al-Ahmad were among the first celebrity arrests in the most recent government crackdown. In addition to Alidoosti and other actors, Tehran authorities have rounded up famous soccer players and social media influencers who have expressed support for the anti-government demonstrations.
Actors Hengameh Ghaziani and Katayoun Riahi were arrested in November for social media posts expressing solidarity with protesters. Voria Ghafouri, an Iranian soccer player, was also arrested last month for “insulting the national soccer team and propagandizing against the government.” All three have since been released.
The latest round of protests was sparked by the Sept. 16 death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, who died after being detained by Iran’s morality police for allegedly failing to properly wear her hijab, or headscarf. The protests have since morphed into one of the most serious challenges to Iran’s theocratic state, established after the 1979 Islamic Revolution.
Alidoosti has been an outspoken critic of the Iranian government and its police force. In June 2020, she was given a suspended five-month prison sentence after she took to Twitter to criticize the police for assaulting a woman who had removed her headscarf. Human Rights Activists in Iran, a group that has been monitoring the protests since they began, estimates at least 495 people have been killed in the demonstrations and more than 18,200 have been detained by authorities.
Over the past few weeks, the state violence against protesters has increased, with Iran publicly executing some of those arrested for demonstrating. Alidoosti’s Instagram post called out the execution of Mohsen Shekari, who was publicly hanged on Dec. 8, as a “disgrace to humanity.” Majidreza Rahnavard, another prisoner arrested in connection with the protests, was publicly hanged on Dec. 12.
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