Artists oppression continues heavier than ever in Iran



Shortly after the disappearance of actress Pegah Ahangarani, it became known that Marzieh Vafamehr, another actress, was also arrested at the beginning of July. Vafamehr is currently held at an unknown place and has not been charged with any crime. It is however probable that her arrest is connected to her appearance in the film “My Tehran for Sale” (2009), where she is seen without a veil. Other participants of this film have apparently also been called in for questioning.



It seems that the Iranian regime is no longer content to arrest people for their political activities; they are now lashing out at cultural professionals such as film directors, actresses or the sports photographer Maryam Majd, who wanted to document the women’s football world cup. One is at a loss to understand why, and why now: the film “My Tehran for sale”, for instance, has been circulating in Iran for two years. It isn’t as if the sight of Marzieh Vafamehr’s uncovered (and clean shaved) head was anything new, demanding immediate action.

What could the regime gain by arresting prominent young women who, in the world’s eyes, haven’t done anything wrong? Haven’t even been active politically?
It is tempting to regard these arrests as a ploy to divert the public’s attention from the humiliating spectacle that was Iranian politics in the last weeks: Ahmadinejad hiding from office, his crony Rahim-Mashaie disappearing from the face of the earth, accusations of witchcraft in the administration, Ahmadinejad handing in his resignation but being refused by the Supreme Leader…. Certainly, it would be wise to have the public worrying about famous, beautiful, disappearing women rather than following developments in the cabinet offices too closely. Or should the arrests distract the people from their ever increasing financial worries? We hear that people in Tehran are now paying their daily bread in rates – a telling indicator of the regime’s total failure in economic policy.

Whatever the underlying motivation: the ploy will fail, public attention will not be diverted from the Islamic Republic’s abysmal failures, and the world will campaign relentlessly for the release of Marzieh Vafamehr, Pegah Ahangarani, Maryam Majdn, Mahnaz Mohammadi and all other political prisoners. It seems as if the Islamic Republic has scored an own goal.

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