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Source: RFE/RL

Jan 9, 2024

Iranian Singer Sentenced To Prison, Lashes For Song Criticizing Hijab Law

Singer Mehdi Yarrahi has been sentenced to two years and eight months in prison and 74 lashes for a song he released critical of Iran's law requiring women to cover their heads.

Yarrahi's lawyer, Zahra Minuei, said in a post on X, formerly Twitter, that the 26th branch of the Tehran Revolutionary Court handed down the sentence for "challenging the public mind and propaganda against the regime" with the release of his song, Your Head Scarf.

"Mr. Yarrahi is currently free with a bail of 15 billion tomans, which was deposited by Mr. Kushan Haddad, one of his colleagues," Minuei added.

Yarrahi was arrested in August 2023 and held until October, when he was released on bail. He was sentenced by the court on multiple charges and the sentences run concurrently, meaning the singer will serve one year in prison.

Your Head Scarf urges women to remove their mandatory head scarves. It was released as officials clamped down on dissent ahead of the first anniversary of the death of Mahsa Amini in September 2023.

Amini died in police custody for an alleged hijab violation. Her death sparked the Women, Life, Freedom movement and nationwide unrest over the government's restrictions on women and their daily lives.

While the protests appear to be waning, resistance to the hijab, or mandatory head scarf for women, is likely to increase, analysts say, as it is seen now as a symbol of the state's repression of women and the deadly crackdown on society.

Several cinematographers and prominent public figures have also been summoned by the police or arrested, including director Hamid Porazari.

Other celebrities, including prominent actresses Afsaneh Bayegan, Fatemeh Motamed-Arya, Katayon Riahi, and Pantea Bahram, have been interrogated and faced legal action after they made public appearances without wearing the hijab to show support for the protesters.

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