Iran sends hip-hop artist who rapped about hijab protests back to jail

A woman holds a poster of rapper Toomaj Salehi, who was arrested over his support of the Mahsa Amini protests
A woman holds a poster of rapper Toomaj Salehi, who was arrested over his support of the Mahsa Amini protests Copyright Getty Images
By David MouriquandAP
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Iranian rapper Toomaj Salehi was previously charged with "corruption on Earth" and was released from prison two weeks ago after more than a year in custody.

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Iran has sent a popular rapper back to jail less that two weeks after his release from prison on bail.

Mizanonline.ir, an online news outlet affiliated with Iran’s judiciary, said authorities arrested Toomaj Salehi on a new charge of “spreading lies and violation of public opinion.”

Salehi is mainly known for his protest songs concerning Iran's societal issues and the policies of the government of the Islamic Republic of Iran - songs including 'Mouse Hole', 'Turkmenchay' and 'Pomegranate.'

He was released from prison in mid-November after spending more than a year in custody on charges that his supporters said were based on the hip-hop artist's music and participation in the protests that broke out in Iran over the death of 22 year old Mahsa Amini.

Amini died in the custody of the country’s morality police after being detained for wearing her hijab too loosely.

Salehi was reportedly charged with "propagandistic activity against the government, cooperation with hostile governments and forming illegal groups with the intention of creating insecurity in the country".

His last music YouTube video posted prior to his 2022 arrest included the lyrics, "Someone's crime was dancing with her hair in the wind / Someone's crime was that he or she was brave and criticized... 44 years of your government / It's the year of failure."

Earlier this week, Salehi said in a video message that he was tortured after his arrest in October 2022, when state media released a video showing him blindfolded and apologizing for his words, a statement likely made under duress.

A court sentenced Salehi in July to more than six years in prison. A defense lawyer said earlier this month that the rapper's appeal resulted in his release on bail after the Supreme Court sent the case back to a lower court.

Nearly 20,000 people were arrested in Tehran's crackdown on the protests, which largely died down earlier this year. Eight of them were executed for allegedly attacking security forces. They were convicted in secretive courts where rights groups say they were denied the right to defend themselves.

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