Iranian hip hop star sentenced to death for supporting protests over the death of a woman who was arrested for wearing an ''improper'' hijab

Wednesday, April 25, 2024 – Iranian rapper Toomaj Salehi has been sentenced to death in the Islamic Republic.

An Iranian revolutionary court sentenced the well-known hip hop star on Wednesday (April 24) for charges linked to Iran’s 2022-23 civilian unrest, his lawyer told the Iranian newspaper Sharq.

Salehi was initially arrested in October 2022 after voicing support for the nationwide Woman, Life, Freedom protests.

He showed solidarity for the months-long protests in his songs, which were sparked by the death in police custody of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old Kurdish-Iranian woman arrested for allegedly wearing an ‘improper’ hijab.

He released songs criticising the government, demanding more rights for women in Iran and also posted pictures and videos of himself during the demonstrations.

Salehi was first arrested in October 2022 due to the public statements

He was sentenced in July 2023 to six years and three months in prison for ‘corruption on Earth’.

He then avoided a death sentence and was released on bail on November 18, 2023, after the Supreme Court, responding to an appeal, found ‘flaws in the original sentence.’

The case was returned to a lower court for reexamination and possible retrial. However, less than two weeks later, the musician was sent back to jail, facing new charges after publicly discussing his torture in prison in a video.

‘Branch One of the Revolutionary Court of (the central city of) Isfahan in an unprecedented move, did not enforce the Supreme Court’s ruling… and sentenced Salehi to the harshest punishment,’ his lawyer Amir Raisian told Sharq on Wednesday.

The Iranian judiciary has not confirmed the sentence yet.

Salehi has 20 days to appeal the ruling.

‘We will definitely appeal this verdict,’ his lawyer confirmed.

The initial accusations against Salehi included spreading ‘lies on the internet’ and ‘propaganda against the state’, as well as inciting people to violence and ‘having formed and managed illegal groups with the aim of disrupting security in cooperation with a government hostile’ to Iran.

Mehdi Yarrahi, another singer who supported the movement and criticised the mandatory dress rules for women, was sentenced to two years and eight months in prison.

Following months of unrest after Amini’s death on September 16, 2022, hundreds of people were killed including dozens of security personnel.

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