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Oscar-Winning Director Asghar Farhadi Condemns Arrest of ‘The Salesman’ Actress Taraneh Alidoosti

Oscar-winning Iranian director Asghar Farhadi says he ‘supports’ his The seller Y 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 be officially executed by the Tehran regime for crimes allegedly committed during the anti-government protests that have rocked Iran for months.

In a post on his official Instagram account, Farhadi called for Alidoosti’s arrest, saying that if he “shows support [for protestors] it is a crime, tens of millions of people on this earth are criminals.” She 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 at a better life.”

Panahi, Rasoulof and director Mostafa Al-Ahmad were among the first celebrity arrests in the latest government campaign. In addition to Alidoosti and other actors, the Tehran authorities have detained famous footballers and social media influencers who have expressed their support for the anti-government protests.

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 making anti-government propaganda.” All three have since been released.

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The latest round of protests was sparked by the death on September 16 of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, who died after being detained by Iran’s morality police for allegedly not wearing her hijab or headscarf correctly. Since then, the protests have become one of the most serious challenges to Iran’s theocratic state, established after the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

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Alidoosti has been an outspoken critic of the Iranian government and its police force. In June 2020, he received a five-month suspended prison sentence after he took to Twitter to criticize police for assaulting a woman who had removed her veil. Human rights activists in Iran, a group that has been monitoring the protests since they began, estimates that at least 495 people have been killed in the demonstrations and more than 18,200 have been detained by authorities.

In recent weeks, state violence against protesters has escalated, with Iran publicly executing some of those arrested for demonstrating. Alidoosti’s Instagram post called the execution of Mohsen Shekari, who was publicly hanged on December 8, a “shame on humanity.” Majidreza Rahnavard, another prisoner arrested in connection with the protests, was publicly hanged on December 12.

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