Iran has arrested a prominent actor who in a video removed her headscarf in public in an apparent act of defiance, state media reported Sunday, as protests sweep the country.
Iran’s clerical leadership has been shaken by more than two months of women-led demonstrations sparked by the death in custody of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old woman of Kurdish origin who had been arrested by the morality police in Tehran.
Authorities in the Islamic republic describe the protests as “riots” and accuse the country’s Western foes of fomenting them.
Hengameh Ghaziani, a vocal critic of the crackdown on protesters, was arrested for inciting and supporting the “riots” and for communicating with opposition media, the official news agency IRNA said.
The 52-year-old film star had already indicated she had been summoned by the judiciary, and then published a video on Instagram of herself removing the obligatory hijab. “Maybe this will be my last post,” she wrote late Saturday.
“From this moment on, whatever happens to me, know that as always, I am with the Iranian people until my last breath.”
The video, which appears to have been filmed in a shopping street, shows Ghaziani bareheaded facing the camera without speaking and then turning round and binding her hair into a ponytail.
In a post last week, she accused the “child-killer” Iranian government of “murdering” more than 50 children.
According to the judiciary’s Mizan Online news website, Ghaziani was among eight people who were summoned to prosecutors over “provocative” material posted on social media.
They also included Yahya Golmohammadi, coach of Tehran football team Persepolis FC, who had strongly criticised players on Iran’s national squad for not “bringing the voice of oppressed people to the ears of the authorities”.
The comment came after the national football team last week met President Ebrahim Raisi ahead of their appearance at the World Cup, which began Sunday in Qatar.
Mizan said other prominent actors including Mitra Hajjar and Baran Kosari had also been summoned.
Earlier this month, Taraneh Alidoosti, one of Iran’s best-known actors remaining in the country, posted an image of herself on social media without the mandatory headscarf.
Alidoosti vowed to stay in her homeland at “any price”, saying she planned to stop working and instead support the families of those killed or arrested in the protest crackdown.
Iranian cinema figures were under pressure even before the start of the protest movement sparked by Amini’s death.
Prize-winning directors Mohammad Rasoulof and Jafar Panahi remain in detention after they were arrested earlier this year.