Science

This Iranian rapper was arrested for supporting the Mahsa Amini protests. Now, he could face the death penalty

Key pointsToomaj Salehi, well known on Iran’s rap scene, was arrested late last month after denouncing the regime.His family tweeted that his “life is at serious risk right now” as he faced charges of “enmity against God” and “corruption”.Tens of thousands of people have signed a petition calling for global authorities to demand the release of Mr Salehi.The family of an Iranian rapper detained for supporting protests over Mahsa Amini’s death said his life was at risk after he went on trial behind closed doors on Saturday.

Toomaj Salehi, well known on Iran’s rap scene, was arrested late last month after denouncing the regime and showing support for the protests, human rights groups said.

Iran has intensified a crackdown on the protests sparked by the death of Ms Amini after her arrest in Tehran for allegedly breaching the country’s strict dress code for women.

Demonstrations have swelled since September, into a broad movement against the Iranian regime.

“Dissident rapper Toomaj Salehi had the first day of his so-called ‘trial’ today in Tehran without a lawyer of his choice,” the New York-based Center for Human Rights in Iran said on Twitter.

His family tweeted that his “life is at serious risk right now” as he faced charges of “enmity against God” and “corruption on earth” — sharia-related charges that are capital crimes in the Islamic republic.

Mr Salehi had disappeared at the end of October before appearing in a video published on 2 November by Iran’s state-run media.

The video claimed to show the first images of Mr Salehi after his arrest.

It depicted a tattooed man in a sleeveless black T-shirt sitting on the ground, wearing a blindfold and looking bloodied and bruised.

The man said: “I am Toomaj Salehi. I said I made a mistake. I said… that you should run. I didn’t mean you.”

Activists condemned the recording as a forced confession extracted under duress.

Mr Salehi’s detention came shortly after he gave an interview highly critical of the regime to the Canadian Broadcasting Cooperation.

“You are dealing with a mafia that is ready to kill the entire nation… in order to keep its power, money and weapons,” Mr Salehi said in the interview.

He is one of a number of prominent figures to be arrested in a mass crackdown that has seen dozens of journalists, lawyers, civil society and cultural figures arrested.

The situation in Iran has also been in the global spotlight during the 2022 Football World Cup as

the country on the world stage.

Iranian state media claim Mr Salehi was arrested while trying to cross one of the country’s western borders, but his family has denied this saying he was in the southwestern province of Chaharmahal and Bakhtiari at the time.

Tens of thousands of people have signed an online petition calling for global authorities to forcefully demand the release of Mr Salehi and all other innocent protest and political prisoners in Iran.

On Thursday, the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) vowed to undertake a

into the deadly crackdown on demonstrations in Iran.

Those within Iran are not the only ones whose lives are impacted by the regime there, members of Australia’s Iranian community have said they

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