Iran increased pressure on celebrities and journalists on Thursday in response to a wave of women-led demonstrations spurred by anger over the murder of Mahsa Amini, who was imprisoned by the Islamic republic’s morality police.
The protests have the support of sportsmen, artists, actresses, and filmmakers. Many saw it as a hint when the national football team stayed in their black tracksuits throughout the anthems playing before a Vienna match against Senegal.
According to the ISNA news agency, Tehran province governor Mohsen Mansouri warned, “We will take measures against the celebrities who have stoked the fires of the riots.”
Gholamhossein Mohseni Ejei, the head of Iran’s judiciary, made a similar accusation, claiming that “those who got prominent owing to backing from the system have joined the enemy when things are bad.”
The alerts followed almost two weeks of nationwide demonstrations in Iran and a bloody response that, according to human rights organization Amnesty International, was characterized by “ruthless brutality by security forces.”
Amini, a 22-year-old Kurdish woman who was arrested on September 14 for allegedly disobeying Iran’s stringent laws requiring women to wear hijabs and modest attire, died on September 16, three days later, setting up a public outcry.
Since then, in Iran’s three-year largest protests, women have proudly burnt their headscarves and chopped their hair while chanting, “Woman, Life, Freedom.”
Despite his death’s “grief and sadness,” President Ebrahim Raisi issued a warning, noting that public safety “is the red line of the Islamic republic of Iran and no one is permitted to breach the law and create turmoil.”
‘No To Dictatorship’
After previously complaining to Britain and Norway, Iran on Thursday denounced “intervention” in its domestic affairs by France over a statement supporting the demonstrations.
Protests in support of Iranian women have taken place all around the globe, and gatherings are scheduled for Saturday in 70 locations.
In one demonstration, women gathered outside the Iranian embassy in Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan, holding signs that said, “Iran has risen, now it’s our time!” and “Say no to tyranny, from Kabul to Iran!”
An AFP journalist stated that after firing gunshots into the air to scatter the crowd, the hardline Islamist Taliban forces quickly grabbed the flags and tore them up.
The latest journalist imprisoned in Iran was the reporter Elahe Mohammadi, who had covered Amini’s burial, according to her lawyer.
Niloufar Hamedi, a journalist with the reformist Shargh daily who visited the hospital where Amini was being treated for a coma and assisted in bringing attention to the situation, has also been detained by police.
According to Fars news agency, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps intelligence agents detained 50 members of “an organized network” who were responsible for the “riots” in the revered Shiite city of Qom.
Push for EU Sanctions
London-based Amnesty International condemned Iran’s security forces for their “widespread patterns of illegal use of force and callous violence.”
This, it was said, included the use of live fire and metal pellets, as well as severe beatings and sexual assaults on women, all carried out “under cover of ongoing, planned internet and mobile disturbances.”
Agnes Callamard, the organization’s secretary general, said, “dozens of people, including children, have been murdered so far and hundreds wounded.”
While the Oslo-based organization Iran Human Rights claims at least 76 people have died, the Fars news agency has claimed that “approximately 60” individuals have been killed.
To prove that armed organizations stationed there were responsible for the disturbance, Iran conducted cross-border missile and drone attacks on Wednesday that killed 13 people in the Kurdistan region of Iraq.
Punitive sanctions imposed on Iran due to its disputed nuclear program have already hurt its economy.
Annalena Baerbock, the foreign minister of Germany, said on Thursday that she was “doing all” she could to encourage the European Union to impose penalties on people who were “beating women to death and killing protestors in the name of religion.”
The Iranian authorities have minimized the situation.
The demonstrations were “not a huge concern” for the stability of the clerical state, Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian claimed he told Western diplomats at previous UN sessions.
On Wednesday in New York, he said on National Public Radio, “There is not going to be a regime transition in Iran.” “Don’t appeal to the Iranian people’s emotions.”