Celebrity chef Mehrshad Shahidi, who was dubbed Iran's Jamie Oliver, was killed by security forces before his 20th birthday, reigniting protests across the Islamic Republic. Shahidi's death rejuvenated a second and even greater wave of national protests against the regime.
Like in Mahsa Amini's case, Iranian forces have denied any responsibility in the aspiring chef's death, saying that they will announce the cause of his death later. Local media reports say Shahidi was arrested during a protest and beaten mercilessly to death with batons at the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corp (IRGC) intelligence's detention center in Arak.
The young chef was killed on Wednesday, the 40th day of the protests. He reportedly received blows to his skull. The deceased's family claim officials pushed them into telling the public that Shahidi died of heart attack. Even Abdolmehdi Mousavi, chief justice of the province, says there are no signs of fractures in the arms, legs, skull or any brain injury. Behnam Nazari, the deputy governor of the province, said rumours are being spread by "anti-Iran media", but no bullets have been shot at Mehrshad Shahidi.
Iran's Jamie Oliver
Mehrshad Shahidi was a renowned and adored chef. He had 25,000 followers on Instagram and was known for videos of his culinary feats. Shahidi worked as head chef at the University of Arak. His social media account followers described him as a "popular man" who was "energetic and handsome".
Dr Nina Ansary, an Iranian American author, described Shahidi as a talented young chef at Boote Restaurant. "He was ruthlessly killed by security forces in Iran, Tomorrow would have been his 20th birthday. We will never forget. We will never forgive."
One Twitter user tagged British celebrity chef Gordan Ramsay "Mehrshad Shahidi a young talented chef cook was brutally beaten to death by Mullah dictatorship forces a day before his birthday. His birthday surprise turned out to be the saddest memory for his family and friends."
Protests Roar On
Iran saw massive crowds gathered up for Mehrshad Shahidi's funeral on Saturday. They chanted "This year is the year of blood, Seyed Ali (Khamenei) is overthrown" and "For every one person killed, there are thousands of us behind them."
Protesters also chanted slogans condemning the United States, Israel, and Britain for allegedly being behind the riots – "Death to America, to Israel, to England".... "The vigilant revolutionary people hates the rioters".
Major General Hossein Salami, the head of the IRGC, urged a limited number of youth deceived by the Islamic republic's enemies to put an end to the riots. He called on students not to become chess pieces for the enemy. Iran's President Ebrahim Raisi, in televised remarks, seemed to link the Shiraz attack, one of the country's deadliest in years, with the protests and riots following Amini's death. He said the intention of the enemy is to disrupt Iran's progress and the riots pave the ground for terrorist acts.