Iran released a well-known actress on Wednesday, state media reported, after serving nearly three weeks in detention for condemning the government’s harsh response to the massive protests that have rocked the country since September.
The actress, Taraneh Alidoosti, 38, was arrested on December 18 after urging Iranians to support anti-government protests. expressed solidarity with the demonstrators.
Iran’s semi-official ISNA news agency said on Wednesday that Ms. Alidoosti, the star of the 2016 Academy Award-winning film “The Salesman” directed by Asghar Farhadi, has been released on bail, citing her lawyer, Zahra Minouie.
Photos later circulated on social media showing Ms. Alidoosti standing outside Evin Prison, the notorious prison in Tehran where Iran routinely incarcerates political opponents, academics, writers and other prominent dissidents. Her hair was loosely covered with a scarf and she was holding a bunch of flowers.
Protests first swept through Iran in mid-September following the death in custody of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, who had been arrested by Iran’s morality police, accused of violating the law requiring headscarves and modest dress for women. While the protests were initially aimed at dismantling the hijab law, they soon spread and demanded an end to Iran’s entire ruling establishment.
As the authorities cracked down with bullets and beatings, resulting in hundreds of deaths and thousands of arrests, Ms. Alidoosti became one of the most famous voices cheering the protests and denouncing the brutal response.
“Your silence means support for oppression and oppressors,” Ms Alidoosti wrote on her social media accounts in December, after authorities announced the execution by hanging of 23-year-old Mohsen Shekari, one of two protesters who have hit Iran so far. has executed.
In reporting her arrest, state news agencies described her posts as “baseless comments about recent events” and “the publication of provocative material”. The judiciary said in a statement that it had subpoenaed several celebrities, including Ms Alidoosti, for making claims it said were unsubstantiated about what the government calls the “riots”, but that she was arrested for failing to provide any evidence .
Ms Alidoosti, who was also prosecuted in June 2020 for Twitter posts criticizing police for beating an Iranian woman who had removed her headscarf, had previously posted a photo of herself with her hair uncovered, holding a sign that her support for the protesters.
However, when she was arrested, her Twitter and Instagram accounts were deleted. Those accounts remained unavailable Wednesday night.
Iran’s government blames the protests on a foreign conspiracy and remains defiant despite international condemnation. The country’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said in a meeting with hundreds of Iranian women on Wednesday that Westerners were “hypocritical” for criticizing women’s place in Islam while oppressing women in their own country.
“The modernized West and its decadent culture are really guilty in this regard and have committed a crime against women’s honor and dignity,” he said, according to ISNA, defending Islam’s “advanced” and “just” vision of women .
Leily Nikounazar contributed reporting.