Pop singer arrested by Iran's regime after releasing track dedicated to women

The release comes ahead of Mahsa Amini's protests anniversary.

August 29, 2023, 11:00 AM

LONDON -- Mehdi Yarrahi, a prominent Iranian pop singer, was arrested by Iranian authorities on Monday after releasing a song celebrating the anniversary of the Mahsa Amini protests coming up next month.

Iran said the "illegal song" was the reason for his arrest, according to the Mizan News Agency affiliated to the Islamic Republic judiciary stated on Monday.

“Take off your scarf, the sun is sinking,” the opening lyrics to the song reads. “Don’t be afraid, my love, laugh, protest against tears.”

Yarrahi’s lawyer, Mostafa Nili, confirmed the arrest in a post on X, formerly known as Twitter.

In an interview with Sharq Daily, Nili added that he did not know the charges nor the whereabouts of his client.

Yarrahi’s songs have been used as somewhat of a rallying cry in Iran since Mahsa Amini's suspicious death in a hospital in Tehran on September 16 last year. Protests took on a life of their own after 22-year-old died while in police custody after being arrested for allegedly not fully complying with the strict mandatory hijab rules of the country.

Demonstrators gathering around a burning barricade during a protest for Mahsa Amini, a woman who died after being arrested by the Islamic republic's "morality police", in Tehran, Sept. 19, 2022.
AFP via Getty Images

Her death led to widespread protests across Iran, which activists have described to ABC News as "the most serious challenge" the government regime has faced in over four decades.

Iran Human Rights reported in April that at least 537 people had been killed since the start of the protests and at least 22,000 people have been arrested, according to the Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA).

“Dedicated to the noble women of my home and, who bravely shine in the front line of the “Woman, Life, Freedom” movement,” the dedication of his latest song, Roosarito, meaning "your headscarf", reads.

Yarrahi’s arrest is yet another case of an increasing number of detentions and raids by the Islamic Republic over the past few weeks ahead of the first-year anniversary of the Mahsa Amini movement.

Just last Wednesday, at least 11 women's rights activists were arrested by security forces in Iran in the northern province of Gilan Wednesday, according to the Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA).

Another notable recent arrest arrest was of Mashallah Karami, whose son, Mohammad Mehdi Karami, was executed after attending recent protests. Karami published photos of preparing food that he and his wife had made to distribute among those in need to honor their son's short life before getting executed by the regime.

Karami’s lawyer, Amir Hosein Koohkan, was also detained the same day and released later, just to be detained again on Monday.

Families of other protest victims in different cities have also reported news of arrests and harassment by the regime over the past few weeks.

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