Iran arrests actors for removing headscarves in broader crackdown on celebrities | Iran

According to state media, Iran has arrested two prominent actors who have shown solidarity with the country’s protest movement and have publicly removed their headscarves.

Hengameh Ghaziani and Katayoun Riahi were both arrested after being subpoenaed by prosecutors who investigated their “provocative” posts on social media, Iran’s state-run news agency IRNA said.

Iran’s spiritual leadership has been rocked by more than two months of demonstrations sparked by the death in custody of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old woman of Kurdish origin, who was arrested by morality police in Tehran.

Authorities in the Islamic Republic have dubbed the protests “riots” and accused the country’s western enemies of fomenting them.

On Saturday, Ghaziani posted a video on Instagram of her taking off her hijab. “Maybe this will be my last post,” she wrote.

“From this moment, whatever happens to me, you know that as always, I am with the Iranian people until my last breath.”

The video shows Ghaziani looking wordlessly at the camera, then turning around and tying her hair into a ponytail.

In a post last week, she accused Iran’s “child-killing” government of “murdering” more than 50 children.

Iranian state media said she was arrested for instigating and supporting the “riots” and communicating with opposition media.

Riahi was later arrested as part of the same investigation, IRNA said.

The actress, who has appeared in a number of award-winning films and is also known for her charity work, gave an interview to London-based Iran International TV – a broadcaster despised by the regime – in September without wearing a hijab.

She had expressed her solidarity with the protests that have gripped Iran since Mahsa Amini’s death and her opposition to the compulsory hijab.

The Iranian human rights group says the government crackdown has claimed the lives of at least 378 people, including 47 children.

Authorities have sentenced six people to death over the demonstrations, while at least 21 people have been charged with crimes that could carry the death penalty, according to Amnesty International.

The campaign of mass arrests has captivated athletes, celebrities and journalists.

The coach of one of Iran’s most prominent football teams, Yahya Golmohammadi of Persepolis FC, was among the celebrities questioned for comments on the protests, Iranian media reported.

Iran Boxing Federation chief Hossein Soori said he would not return home from a tournament in Spain.

“I could no longer serve my dear country in a system that so easily sheds the blood of people,” he said in a video on Saturday.

At the World Cup in Qatar, national team captain Ehsan Hajsafi said Iran’s players wanted to be the “voice” of the people at home.

“The situation in the country is not good and our people are not happy.”

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