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Arrests over the protests sparked by the arrest and subsequent death of Mahsa Amini have extended to well-known public figures, such as footballers and singers, following multiple warnings by Iranian authorities to “celebrities” not to encourage the demonstrations.
Former soccer player Hosein Mahini, who played for Persepolis club and the national team, has been arrested “for instigating riots,” Iran Front Page media reported last night.
“Authorities claim that Mahini distributed false rumors during the riots on his Twitter account and encouraged people to take to the streets and join the anti-government protests,” according to Iran Front Page.
Security forces also confiscated his cell phone and laptop.
Singer Mona Borzoui has also been detained, according to Iranian media, after she posted a video in which she recited poetry in support of the protests over Amini’s death on Friday 16 after she was arrested for improperly wearing the veil.
“Abolish fear and lies. Women, life and freedom,” Borzoui said in an excerpt of the video he posted on Twitter.
Singer Shervin Hajipour has also been arrested for a song he wrote and released on social media with tweets posted by many Iranians about the protests, the BBC reported.
The governor of Tehran province, Mohsen Mansouri, warned Thursday that the authorities would act against “the celebrities who fanned the flames of the riots.”
Earlier in the week the head of the judiciary, Gholamhosein Mohseni Ejei, said public figures and celebrities who “openly” supported the protesters should pay for damage done to “public property” during the protests.
Filmmakers, soccer players and singers, among other celebrities, have shown their support for the young people who took to the streets shouting “Women, life, freedom” and burned veils and images of the country’s religious leaders.
In a friendly match against Nigeria in Vienna, Iranian national team players wore black jackets during the playing of the anthem before the start of the match on Tuesday, something that was interpreted as support for the protests.
During the mobilizations that began on Friday 16, at least 1,400 people have been arrested, among them well-known figures such as Faezeh Hashemi Rafsanyani, daughter of the late former President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanyani, a key figure of the 1979 Islamic Revolution.
A total of 28 reporters have also been detained, according to the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists.
Iranian state television claimed five days ago that 41 people had died, but clarified that this was their own count and not the official figures.
The Oslo-based NGO Iran Human Rights raises the figure to 83.
Protests have subsided in recent days and the governor of Tehran province yesterday called an end to the demonstrations.
The police, together with the Basijis (paramilitary militias loyal to the Iranian regime), have repressed the demonstrations with the use of batons, tear gas, water cannons and, according to the UN, live ammunition.
In some areas of Tehran there are hundreds of riot police on the streets, who also patrol the city on motorcycles, in a tense atmosphere with friction between security forces and citizens.