Tehran regime releases prominent Iranian actress detained for criticizing government crackdown on protests
Iran released a leading Oscar-winning film actress on Wednesday, nearly three weeks after she was jailed for criticizing a crackdown on anti-government protests, according to local reports.
Taraneh Alidoosti, the 38-year-old star of Asghar Farhadi’s 2016 Oscar-winning film ‘The Salesman’, has been released on bail, Tehran’s semi-official ISNA news agency reported.
Her mother, Nadere Hakimelahi, had earlier announced that she would be released in an Instagram post.
After his release on Wednesday from Tehran’s notorious Evin prison, Alidoosti posed with bouquets of flowers, surrounded by friends. No other details have been released about his case.
Alidoosti was among several Iranian celebrities to voice support for nationwide protests and criticize the authorities’ violent crackdown on dissent.
She had posted at least three messages in support of the protests on Instagram before her account was deactivated.
A message had expressed solidarity with the first man to be executed on charges related to the protests, which were sparked by the death of Mahsa Amini in police custody and turned into widespread calls for the overthrow of Iran’s ruling clerics.
Alidoosti: Those who are still silent are “the shame of humanity”
The protests mark one of the Islamic Republic’s biggest challenges since its inception after the 1979 revolution. Security forces have used live ammunition, shotgun shells, tear gas and batons to disperse protesters, groups say defense of rights.
Mohsen Shekari was executed on December 9 after being accused by a local court of blocking a street in Tehran and attacking a member of the country’s security forces with a machete.
A week later, the Tehran regime executed a second prisoner, Majidreza Rahnavard, by public hanging. He had been accused of stabbing two members of the paramilitary Basij militia, which is carrying out the crackdown.
Activists say at least a dozen people have been sentenced to death in closed hearings on charges related to the protests.
“His name was Mohsen Shekari,” Alidoosti wrote on an account with some 8 million followers before his arrest. “Every international organization that observes this bloodbath and does not act is a disgrace to humanity.”
Iranian reports on Alidoosti’s release do not say whether she has been charged with anything or whether she will face trial. It was also unclear whether she faced any travel restrictions as part of the terms of her release.
At least 516 protesters have been killed and more than 19,000 people have been arrested, according to Human Rights Activists in Iran, a group that has been following the unrest closely. Iranian authorities have not provided an official tally of those killed or detained.
Hengameh Ghaziani and Katayoun Riahi, two other famous Iranian actresses, were arrested in November for expressing solidarity with protesters on social media.
Voria Ghafouri, an Iranian football star, was also arrested that month for “insulting the national football team and propaganda against the government”. All three were released.
Women on the front lines of protests
The protests began in mid-September when Amini, 22, died after being arrested by Iranian vice police for allegedly breaking the Islamic Republic’s strict dress code.
Women have played a prominent role in the protests, with many publicly removing the compulsory Islamic headscarf or hijab.
Protesters say they are sated after decades of political and social repression. One of the main slogans has been “Death to the Dictator”, in reference to Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, 83, who has held the country’s highest office for more than three decades.
Iranian officials blame the protests on the United States and other foreign powers. State-linked media highlighted attacks on security forces, while authorities imposed heavy restrictions on coverage of protests, including periodically cutting off internet access.
Khamenei, who has said little about the protests, spoke about Islamic dress in a meeting with women on Wednesday, saying the hijab is necessary but those who “do not fully observe” the practice “shouldn’t not be accused of being non-religious or against the revolution.”
Even before the protests, many Iranian women wore the headscarf loosely, and authorities have relaxed enforcement at times, notably under President Hassan Rouhani, a relatively moderate who ruled from 2013 to 2021.
His successor, the hard-line Ebrahim Raisi, had decided to tighten the restrictions.
Alidoosti had already criticized the Iranian government and its police forces ahead of this year’s protests.
In June 2020, she received a five-month suspended prison sentence after criticizing police on Twitter in 2018 for assaulting a woman who removed her headscarf.
In “The Salesman”, she played a woman whose relationship with her husband breaks down after he is sexually assaulted in their apartment.
The story is set against the backdrop of a local staging of Arthur Miller’s classic play, “Death of a Salesman”, in which the wife and her husband are the main characters.
Other well-known films Alidoosti starred in include “The Beautiful City” and “About Elly”.