A former presenter for Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting has been arrested for “inciting riots and sympathizing with the enemy” by a court order.
The veteran TV show host Mahmoud Shahriari was taken into custody on Wednesday evening after posting messages in support of the ongoing demonstrations in Iran on his personal Instagram page.
Shahriari, 60, is best remembered in Iran for his work in the 1990s. He has been banned from TV and radio appearances since 2020, after he criticized the Islamic Republic’s response to the coronavirus outbreak and support for Shia militias.
In its report on Shahriari’s arrest, Mehr News Agency said it came as part of a wider effort by the judiciary to counter “the baseless and false claims of some other celebrities in cyberspace”.
Also on Wednesday, the actor Babak Karimi announced on Instagram that he had also been threatened with arrest for backing the protests against theocratic dictatorship in Iran.
"Due to my Instagram activities at present,” he said in a video clip, “I got a call from the police… and I also received a message from the Ministry of Culture." On both occasions, he said, he had been told that his social media activities were “illegal”.
The past 10 days have seen scores of Iranian public figures, from actors and singers to academics to world-class athletes, many of whom technically work for the Iranian state, break rank to back the protesters and denounce the Islamic Reublic.
The regime has demonized them in response, casting those that speak out as agents of foreign “enemies”. At a smaller state-organized rally in support of the regime over the weekend, some people chanted “Death to Celebrities”.
On Wednesday, the newspaper Hamshahri devoted its front page to the campaign to smear famous figures seen to have stood with the people.
It published the photos of footballer Ali Karimi, director Mehran Modiri, singer Xaniar Khosravi, actress Katayoun Riahi and actress Shabnam Farsadjoo, calling for a “decisive intervention” on the part of the authorities.