Iranian rapper sentenced to death for backing protests

By Stermy 3 Min Read

A renowned Iranian rapper, Toomaj Salehi, who rose to prominence for his lyrics addressing the 2022 passing of Mahsa Amini and condemning the Islamic Republic, has received a death sentence.

Salehi, aged 33, was apprehended in October 2022 following his public expressions of support for nationwide demonstrations, which erupted after the death of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old Kurdish Iranian woman detained for not wearing a “proper” hijab.

In one of his videos, Salehi rapped about Amini, remarking: “Someone’s crime was dancing with her hair in the wind.”

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Another verse from his repertoire predicts the downfall of Iran’s theocratic rule. “Your whole past is dark, the government that took the light out of the eyes. … We go from the bottom of the pyramid and knock to the top. … Forty-four years of your government, this is the year of failure.”

Toomaj Salehi, Iranian rapper sentenced to death for backing protests sparked by Mahsa Amini’s death
The rapper was jailed for supporting protests sparked by Mahsa Amini’s death

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His other compositions crudely criticized the all-volunteer Basij wing of Iran’s paramilitary Revolutionary Guard, along with mentioning Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

According to United Nations investigators, Iran bore responsibility for Amini’s demise, and it violently suppressed mostly peaceful protests through a months-long security crackdown, resulting in over 500 deaths and more than 22,000 detentions.

Initially sentenced in July 2023 to six years and three months in prison, Salehi narrowly avoided a death penalty due to a Supreme Court ruling. However, in January, Isfahan’s Revolutionary Court levied fresh accusations against Mr. Salehi, despite his prior acquittal, as noted by his legal counsel.

One of Salehi’s attorneys, Amir Raesian, declared that the rapper plans to challenge the death sentence.

In an interview with the newspaper Sharq on Wednesday, Raesian highlighted that the revolutionary court disregarded the Supreme Court’s leniency ruling and instead pressed new charges before issuing “the harshest punishment.”

The charges for which he was convicted included corruption on earth, “Baghi” [armed rebellion], assembly and collusion, propaganda against the ruling establishment, and incitement to riot.

The verdict has drawn widespread criticism from activists who continue to denounce the sentencing.

At present, Salehi has 20 days to lodge an appeal with the Supreme Court. Should the sentence stand, the judiciary’s amnesty commission will review his case and potentially commute his sentence, as indicated by the judiciary’s media department.

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By Stermy
Stermy is one Crazy fan of the word "Internet". Always online to stay informed and keep others updated. #townflex