Popular Iranian Rapper Sentenced To Death For Supporting 'Anti-Hijab Protests'

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by Tyler Durden
Wednesday, Apr 24, 2024 - 10:30 PM

A 33-year old Iranian activist and rapper who has recently been involved in anti-government demonstrations has been handed a shockingly draconian sentence by an Iranian court. Toomaj Salehi was first arrested in Oct. 2022 for publicly backing the so-called 'anti-hijab' protests which swept the ultra-conservative Islamic country. But this week...

"Branch 1 of Isfahan Revolutionary Court... sentenced Salehi to death on the charge of corruption on Earth," his lawyer quoted the court's ruling as saying. The state laid out its case focused on a highly ambiguous charge of spreading "propaganda".

Image source: YouTube/RFERL

Salehi's lawyer further described that the court "in an unprecedented move, emphasised its independence and did not implement the Supreme Court's ruling" - while noting that "we will certainly appeal against the sentence."

The charges further centered on the Revolutionary Court accusing him of "assistance in sedition, assembly and collusion, propaganda against the system and calling for riots."

In September of 2022, Iran's Islamic 'morality police' arrested 22-year old Iranian Kurdish woman Mahsa Amini for "improper hijab" as she entered a subway station. Activists say she had been beaten and later died in custody, while Iranian authorities claim she suffered a natural health episode (state media and officials described it as a heart attack), fainted and hit her head on the ground.

Her death sparked months of protests across major cities featuring anti-government slogans and clashes with police. Some international reports say that in total over 500 demonstrators died, while reports said dozens of police and security service personnel were killed and wounded.

Iranian authorities at the time attempted to tie the raging domestic unrest to an externally supported destabilization campaign by Tehran's enemies Israel and the United States.

As for the rapper and his immense popularity and influence in Iran, Sky News has observed that "Salehi, who has 2.3 million followers on Instagram, had posted videos after Amini's death talking about 'revolution' and resistance." According more of his background:

His songs also highlight the widening gap between ordinary Iranians and the country’s leadership, accusing authorities of “suffocating” the people without regard for their well-being.

His angry lyrics resonate among Iranians who are increasingly discontent and alienated by Iran’s clerical establishment -- and by the politicians who fail to keep their promises of change.

Salehi has shared his songs on his Instagram and Twitter accounts. But those accounts became inaccessible while he was in custody.

An sample of his music:

Iran (alongside Saudi Arabia and Egypt) leads the Middle East in number of executions each year. In 2023 alone, Iran hanged at least 834 people, which was an 8-year high. This is partly because the Islamic Republic has recently launched a new 'war on drugs' crackdown, but also amid geopolitical tensions it has executed suspected spies in greater numbers.