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Iranian celebrities warned against publicly promoting Mahsa Amini protests

Government official accuses media personalities of ‘fanning the flames of the riots’ triggered by death of Iranian woman after her arrest by morality police

Iranian Americans rally in support of the Iranian resistance movement and to denounce the death of Mahsa Amini, on Capitol Hill September 28, 2022 in Washington, DC. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images via AFP)
Iranian Americans rally in support of the Iranian resistance movement and to denounce the death of Mahsa Amini, on Capitol Hill September 28, 2022 in Washington, DC. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images via AFP)

TEHRAN, Iran — Iranian celebrities were warned Thursday against coming out in support of protests that flared across the country over the death of young Kurdish woman Mahsa Amini while in the custody of the morality police.

A wave of unrest has rocked Iran since the 22-year-old died on September 16 after her arrest by the morality police in Tehran for allegedly failing to observe the Islamic Republic’s strict dress code for women.

The street violence has led to the deaths of dozens of people, mostly protesters but also members of the security forces, and hundreds of arrests.

“We will take action against the celebrities who have fanned the flames of the riots,” Tehran provincial governor Mohsen Mansouri said, quoted by ISNA news agency.

On Wednesday, Iran’s Mehr news agency said former state television host Mahmoud Shahriari had been arrested for allegedly “encouraging riots and solidarity with the enemy.”

Many Iranian sportsmen, actors, and filmmakers have thrown their support behind the movement, asking authorities to listen to the people’s demands.

Asghar Farhadi poses for photographers upon arrival at the Women in Motion Awards during the 75th international film festival, Cannes, southern France, May 22, 2022. (Vianney Le Caer/Invision/AP)

Iran’s two-time Oscar winning director Asghar Farhadi on Sunday urged people around the world to “stand in solidarity” with the protesters.

“They are looking for simple yet fundamental rights that the state has denied them for years,” Farhadi said, in a video message on Instagram.

At a football match against Senegal in Vienna on Tuesday, the entire Iranian team remained dressed in black during the anthems rather than exposing the national strip.

In an Instagram post, star forward Sardar Azmoun condemned the authorities and appeared to complain of a gag order against the team, before retracting his statement.

Another former prominent player, Ali Karimi, has repeatedly supported the protests and condemned Amini’s death on Instagram and Twitter, saying not even holy water could “wash away this disgrace.”

In this photo taken by an individual not employed by the Associated Press and obtained by the AP outside Iran, protesters chant slogans during a protest over the death of a woman who was detained by the morality police, in downtown Tehran, Iran, September 21, 2022. (AP)

Iran’s judiciary chief Gholamhossein Mohseni Ejei has criticized celebrities over their actions.

“Those who became famous thanks to support from the system have joined the enemy when times were difficult, instead of being with the people,” said Ejei.

“All of them should know that they have to pay back the material and spiritual damage caused to the people and the country,” he added.

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