Iran has arrested two prominent actresses who expressed solidarity with the country’s protest movement and removed their headscarves in public, state media reported.
Hengameh Ghaziani and Katayoun Riahi were both detained after prosecutors summoned them seeking their “provocative” social media posts, Iran’s state news agency IRNA reported.
Iran’s clerical leadership has been rocked by more than two months of protests sparked by the death in custody of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old of Kurdish origin who was arrested by Tehran’s morality police.
Authorities in the Islamic Republic describe the protests as “riots” and accuse the country’s Western enemies of inciting them.
On Saturday, Ghaziani posted a video on Instagram of her removing her hijab. “Maybe this will be my last post,” she wrote.
“From this moment forward, whatever happens to me, know that as always, I am with the Iranian people until my last breath.”
The video shows Ghaziani facing the camera without saying a word, then turning around and tying her hair into a ponytail.
In a post last week, she accused Iran’s “child-killing” government of “murdering” more than 50 children.
Iranian state media announced that she was arrested for inciting and supporting “riots” and for communicating with opposition media.
Riahi was later arrested as part of the same investigation, IRNA reported.
The actress, who has appeared in a number of award-winning films and is known for her charity work, gave an interview to London-based Iran International TV – a media outlet despised by the regime – in September without wearing a hijab.
She expressed her solidarity with the protests that swept Iran after the death of Mahsa Amini, as well as her opposition to the mandatory hijab.
An Iranian human rights group says the state crackdown has killed at least 378 people, including 47 children.
Authorities have handed down death sentences to six people over the protests, while Amnesty International says at least 21 people have been charged with crimes that could result in the death penalty.
A campaign of mass arrests ensnared athletes, celebrities and journalists.
The coach of one of Iran’s most famous football clubs, Yahya Golmohammadi, of Persepolis FC, was among the celebrities questioned for comments about the protests, Iranian media reported.
The head of the Iranian Boxing Federation, Hossein Soori, said that he will not return home from the tournament in Spain.
“I could no longer serve my dear country, in a system that so easily sheds the blood of human beings,” he said in a video on Saturday.
At the FIFA World Cup in Qatar, the captain of the national team, Ehsan Hajsafi, said that Iran’s players want to be the “voice” of the people at home.
“The situation in the country is not good and our people are not happy.”