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IRAN: Newspaper says actors, singers, poets and writers banned from television over support for opposition

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Forget ‘wardrobe malfunctions’ like the infamous 2004 Super Bowl halftime mishap that concerned federal regulators. Celebrities in Iran have bigger things to worry about, like getting blacklisted from the little screen by the government just as the big Ramadan television season gets underway.

The moderate daily newspaper Mardom Salari printed a list of singers, poets, actors and other celebrities it claims have been banned from appearing on television for supporting the political opposition known as the ‘green movement.’

In the past, cultural authorities have denied the existence of such a list, but the report includes the names of many high-profile figures.

Among them are Parviz Parastoui, a well-known cinema and theater actor who openly sided with former presidential candidates Mir-Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi during their runs against President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in 2009. Ahmadinejad’s victory sparked widespread demonstrations across Iran that have continued intermittently since.

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Actress Fatemeh Motamed-Arya, who has also supported Mousavi openly, was recently photographed at a French film festival without a headscarf. She has apparently disappeared from the public eye since then. Writer Bahareh Rahnama may have irked authorities when she appeared at a basketball stadium during Mousavi’s campaign in green clothing and made fun of Ahmadinejad.

Many of the others on the list are relative newcomers to Iran’s cultural sphere and could see their careers ruined before they’ve begun if they are barred from working. Hopefully national heartthrob Pegah Ahangarani, also apparently on the list after she was arrested at a demonstration last year, won’t be reduced to babysitting or waiting tables.

-- Meris Lutz in Beirut and Ramin Mostaghim in Tehran


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