An Iranian woman has been sentenced to jail for 10 years after she was found guilty of "promoting prostitution" after she removed her headscarf during a protest rally. Mahsa Peyravi, a 25-year-old Tehran resident, was convicted by Branch 15 of the Tehran Revolutionary Court on December 25.
She was arrested on October 17 at a protest in Tehran. The head of Branch 15 is feared judge Abolqasem Salavati, also called "Iran's Hanging Judge" by political and human rights activists, who sentenced Peyravi. Iran has been embroiled in anti-regime protests since September 16 following the fatal beating of Mahsa Amini, 22, by morality police for wearing her hijab "improperly."
Branding Her a Prostitute
Peyravi was found guilty by the court of "assembly and cooperation" as well as "encouraging corruption and prostitution." She was taken by security personnel on October 17 after she allegedly removed her hijab and raised it above her head at Mirdamad Boulevard in Iran's capital.
Peyravi was sentenced to 10 years in jail by Feared judge Abolqasem Salavati, who is also also called "Iran's Hanging Judge" by political and human rights activists. He previously presided over Mohsen Amiraslani's execution after he called Jonah and the Whale a fictional morality story.
After being detained, Peyravi was granted bail three days later after posting an IRR 2.5 billion bail bond. The preliminary judgment is appealable.
Protests broke out in Iran on September 16 following the fatal beating of Amini by morality police for donning her hijab "improperly." According to independent estimates, at least 469 protestors have died, and 39 more face execution or death sentences.
Up to 18,210 demonstrators are thought to have been detained. The Islamic Republic is under increasing pressure from the West to put an end to the violence.
Following the death of Amini several people in the Middle East and the West have participated in protests to burn their headscarves. The demonstrators claim they are fed up after decades of social and political repression and refute any foreign agenda.
Penalizing Innocent Citizens
Crowds in Tehran have chanted "death to the tyrant" while participating in the demonstrations, demanding an end to the 83-year-old supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's more than three decades of control.
Although Iran has previously seen widespread protests â once in 2017 that lasted until early 2018 and again in November 2019 â the current demonstrations are distinct because they involve members of all spheres of society and women are playing a leading role under the banner "Woman, Life, Freedom."
Some well-known Iranians have made irrevocable decisions to back protests, which have resulted in their detention or exile.
Prominent Iranian actress Taraneh Alidoosti has been jailed and is in the notorious Evin prison after she spoke out against the death of a teenage demonstrator. She previously shared a picture of herself holding a sign bearing the demonstrators' rallying cry while not wearing the required headscarf.
"I have worked with Taraneh on four films and now she is in prison for her rightful support of her fellow countrymen and her opposition to the unjust sentences being issued," Asghar Farhadi, who directed Alidoosti in his Oscar-winning film The Salesman, wrote on Instagram.
"If showing such support is a crime, then tens of millions of people of this land are criminals," Mr Farhadi added.
According to Pegah Ahangarani, another well-known Iranian actress who left the country, "Both sides have been radicalised, the regime in its crackdown and people in film industry in their response.
"Iran cannot go back to pre-Mahsa Amini era," referring to the Kurdish Iranian woman whose death in the custody of Iran's morality police on 16 September sparked the protests.
Another well-known Iranian actor, Hamid Farrokhnezhad, relocated to the United States earlier this month and instantly referred to Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei as a "dictator," likening him to Mussolini, Stalin, and Franco.
One of Iran's most well-known former football players, Ali Karimi, who now resides in Dubai, backed the demonstrations as well. He claimed that after receiving death threats from Iranian intelligence officers, he eventually moved to the United States.
Karimi, who has more than 14 million followers on Instagram, is currently one of the most vocal opponents of the Iranian government.