Iranian authorities arrest celebrities, artists, foreign nationals during protest crackdown: report


Iranian authorities have intensified their crackdown against protesters in the wake of Mahsa Amini’s death, and the Intelligence Ministry announced the arrest of nine foreign nationals as well as journalists and celebrities. 

“They [the regime] want to silence them. The Achilles’ heel of this regime has always been its people,” Lisa Daftari, a Middle East expert and editor-in-chief of The Foreign Desk, told Fox News Digital. 

“They know that the people have reached a tipping point and are fueled by the disenchantment.

“They are literally putting their lives on the line to tell the world that they do not want this regime. The regime has doubled down on using any force needed to quash these protests. By rounding up journalists, poets, singers and celebrities, they are trying to make an example out of them to stop the protests.” 

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People attend a protest over the death of Mahsa Amini, a woman who died after being arrested by the Islamic republic's "morality police" in Tehran, Iran, Sept. 21, 2022. 

People attend a protest over the death of Mahsa Amini, a woman who died after being arrested by the Islamic republic’s “morality police” in Tehran, Iran, Sept. 21, 2022. 
(West Asia News Agency via REUTERS)

Protests started at the funeral for Amini, 22, after her death while in the custody of the morality police. The police claim she merely fell into a coma following her arrest. Her family and some witnesses say they saw evidence police had beaten her.

As of Friday, the protests reportedly spread to over 140 Iranian cities, with at least 83 killed and 3,000 arrested across 31 provinces, according to the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, which released an update Friday on its monitoring of the protests. 

The regime sought to quell the protests by cutting off access to social media in more than a dozen cities in recent days, a move that has precluded the widespread killing of protesters in previous instances of unrest.

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Police over the weekend arrested Niloofar Hamedi, the journalist who first reported Amini’s death, and have arrested 28 other journalists, including several from the Iranian reformist newspaper Shargh, according to the Committee for Protecting Journalists. 

Kurdish activists hold up placards during a protest against the death of Iranian Mahsa Amini in Iran at Martyrs' Square in downtown Beirut, Lebanon, Sept. 21, 2022. 

Kurdish activists hold up placards during a protest against the death of Iranian Mahsa Amini in Iran at Martyrs’ Square in downtown Beirut, Lebanon, Sept. 21, 2022. 
(AP Photo/Bilal Hussein)

The Foreign Desk reported that most of the journalists were taken during post-midnight raids on their homes with electronic devices confiscated. 

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Even prominent artists, including poet Mona Borzouei and singer Shervin Hajipour, have been arrested after posting media in support of the protests. The regime has accused foreign nations of stirring up violence through these celebrities and journalists. 

Women carry pictures during a protest over the death of 22-year-old Kurdish woman Mahsa Amini in Iran, in the Kurdish-controlled city of Qamishli, northeastern Syria, Sept. 26, 2022.  

Women carry pictures during a protest over the death of 22-year-old Kurdish woman Mahsa Amini in Iran, in the Kurdish-controlled city of Qamishli, northeastern Syria, Sept. 26, 2022.  
(Reuters/Orhan Qereman   )

But the world has shown support for the protests. The U.S. responded to Amini’s death by sanctioning the morality police and seven other Iranian security officials “responsible for suppressing nonviolent protests” in the country, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced Sept. 22. He directly blamed the morality police for Amini’s death. 

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“The people of Iran are getting support from all over the world, especially on social media,” Daftari said. “Iranians inside Iran with large followings are using their popularity and platforms to post support for the protests and that’s why the regime is targeting them. They want to silence them.”



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