Iranian rapper sentenced to death, says lawyer

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An Iranian rapper who supported protests against the government has been given a death sentence, his lawyer says. Toomaj Salehi made songs in 2022 backing the protests sparked by the death of Mahsa Amini, a woman who reportedly died in police custody for not wearing a hijab properly.

Salehi’s lawyer, Amir Raesian, said they would appeal against the death sentence. The Iranian authorities have not commented on this yet.

Salehi was first arrested in October 2022 for speaking out in support of the protests and faced several charges. In July 2023, he was sentenced to over six years in prison but avoided the death penalty due to a Supreme Court decision.

However, in January, Isfahan’s Revolutionary Court brought new charges against Salehi, ignoring the previous ruling. The court accused him of various crimes, including “Baghi” (rebellion), propaganda against the government, and inciting riot.

Salehi’s lawyer said the court ignored the Supreme Court’s clemency ruling and handed down the harshest punishment possible.

Salehi, who was already known for his criticism of Iran’s leadership, has 20 days to appeal the ruling.

Before the 2022 protests, Salehi was a popular artist, but he was banned from performing in concerts. Instead, he shared his music on social media, where he openly criticized the Iranian government for corruption and crackdowns on dissent.

After his initial prison sentence in 2023, Salehi was released on bail but was rearrested shortly after for sharing what authorities claimed were false claims without evidence.

Recently, Iranian police have been enforcing strict dress codes for women more aggressively. This death sentence from the revolutionary court seems to be a message showing the regime’s determination to silence any form of opposition.

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