Iran has arrested two prominent actors who expressed solidarity with the country’s protest movement and publicly removed their headscarves, according to state media.
Hengameh Ghaziani and Katayoun Riahi were both detained after being subpoenaed by prosecutors investigating their “provocative” social media posts, Iran’s state news agency IRNA said.
The Iranian church leadership has been rocked by more than two months of demonstrations following the death in custody of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old woman of Kurdish descent who was arrested by the vice squad in Tehran.
Authorities in the Islamic republic described the protests as “riots” and accused the country’s Western enemies of fomenting them.
On Saturday, Ghaziani posted a video on Instagram of her taking off the hijab. “Maybe this will be my last post,” she wrote.
“From this moment on, whatever happens to me, know that as always I am with the Iranian people until my last breath.”
The video shows Ghaziani looking at the camera without speaking and then turning around and tying her hair in a ponytail.
In a post last week, she accused the Iranian government of “child murderer” of “murdering” more than 50 children.
Iranian state media said she was arrested for inciting and supporting the “riots” and for communicating with opposition media.
Riahi was later arrested as part of the same investigation, IRNA said.
The actor, who has appeared in a string of award-winning films and is also known for her charity work, had given an interview to London-based Iran International TV — a medium despised by the regime — in September without wearing a hijab.
She had expressed her solidarity with the protests that have swept Iran since the death of Mahsa Amini, as well as her opposition to compulsory hijab.
Iran’s human rights organization says the state’s actions have cost the lives of at least 378 people, including 47 children.
Authorities have issued death sentences against six people over the demonstrations, while Amnesty International says at least 21 people have been charged with crimes that could lead to the death penalty.
The campaign of mass arrests has trapped athletes, celebrities and journalists.
The coach of one of Iran’s best-known football teams, Yahya Golmohammadi, of Persepolis FC, was among the celebrities questioned over comments made about the protests, Iranian media reported.
The head of Iran’s boxing federation, Hossein Soori, said he would not be returning home from a tournament in Spain.
“I could no longer serve my dear country in a system that sheds human blood so easily,” he said in a video on Saturday.
During the World Cup in Qatar, national team captain Ehsan Hajsafi said the Iranian players wanted to be the “voice” of the people back home.
“The situation in the country is not good and our people are not happy.”