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Two prominent actresses arrested in Iran for not wearing hijabs as protests continue

A large crowd of people gathers on a road busy with cars and lined with trees. Smoke rises from a distant fire.
Two high-profile actresses, Hengameh Ghaziani and Katayoun Riahi, were reportedly arrested by Iran security forces for not wearing headscarves in public in solidarity with ongoing nationwide protests.
(Uncredited / Associated Press)
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Iran has arrested two high-profile actresses for not wearing hijabs in public as a demonstration amid ongoing protests, according to multiple reports citing state media.

For their protests, award-winning actresses Hengameh Ghaziani and Katayoun Riahi were arrested on suspicion of “collusion with the intention of acting against the state security” and “propaganda against the state,” the New York Times reported. The article cited IRNA, Iran’s state-run news agency.

Ghaziani, 52, on Sunday posted a video to her Instagram where she stands on a public sidewalk without a headscarf — which is required for women in Iran. She then faces the camera before turning around to put her hair up into a ponytail.

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“Maybe this will be my last post,” she wrote. “From this moment on, whatever happens to me, know that as always, I am with Iranian people until my last breath.”

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Both she and Riahi, 60, have written posts on social media that were critical of the government’s violent response to protests that have erupted in the nation since the September death of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old who was detained by the country’s morality police for not wearing her hijab in accordance with government standards and died in custody several days later.

“Do you not see what is happening to Iranian children and youth?” Riahi shared in a post by her nonprofit Komak Charity Foundation. “Know they are being beaten, interrogated and tortured in their schools.”

Demonstrators commemorated those killed in a bloody crackdown in southeastern Iran 40 days ago in which activists say 100 people died.

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In Ghaziani’s video, she included a portrait painted by Saba Soleymani of 9-year-old Kian Pirfalak, whose family says he was killed by state security forces and is believed to be the youngest to die amid the ongoing crackdown of protesters.

Iranian courts have already sentenced at least five protesters to death for taking part in demonstrations. Critics have called the trials unfair, given an apparent lack of legal representation, according to the BBC.

As of early November, at least 328 people have been killed and 14,825 others arrested in the unrest, according to Human Rights Activists in Iran, a group that has been monitoring the two months of protests.

Even as Iranian officials tighten their grip on those who voice dissent, members of Iran’s national soccer team on Monday stood silent during their national anthem before their World Cup match against England. Players had their arms across one another’s shoulders, and did not sing the song. Loud booing could be heard during the anthem from the large group of the team’s supporters at Khalifa International Stadium, some of whom held signs reading “Women, Life and Freedom.”

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Iran’s captain, Ehsan Hajsafi had said a day prior to the match that “we have to accept that the conditions in our country are not right and our people are not happy.”

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