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Iranian Superstar Banned For What Could Prove To Be Suppression Of Dissent

Hanieh Tavassoli, Iranian Superstar reported to be under arrest. File photo
Hanieh Tavassoli, Iranian Superstar reported to be under arrest. File photo

An award-winning Iranian movie superstar has been banned from appearing on the Islamic Republic's monopolized TV networks, apparently for protesting the arrest of a female photojournalist.

Hanieh Tavassoli and several other famous actors have made public statements condemning the detention of Noushin Jafari, who is a photojournalist focusing on movie stars and celebrities.

According to social media reports, intelligence agents detained the young photojournalist on August 3. The charges against her are not yet known.

A picture of an Iranian judiciary document circulated on social media reflected that the Islamic Republic's intelligence agents ransacked Ms. Jafari's home on August 3 and confiscated 35 items, including her cellphone, memory drives, and cameras.

There are unconfirmed reports that other photojournalists also focusing on celebrities have been detained. Some on social media say that this could be related to a plan to find perhaps incriminating evidence against celebrities.

Nooshin Jafari, 31, was once before detained in 2010, while working as art and culture reporter for the pro-reform daily Etemad. She was later released and continued her career as cinema photographer.

Hanieh Tavassoli, and other stars, Mahnaz Afshar, Taraneh Alidousti, and Setareh Pessiani have openly sympathized with Ms. Jafari on social media in recent days, calling for her release.

On Wednesday, August 14, the company responsible for distributing Ms. Tavassoli's latest movie, "The Original Idea," disclosed that the state-run TV had banned the popular star's pictures and voice from being broadcast on its countrywide radio and television networks.

"They have told us to take out the pictures and voice of Hanieh Tavassoli from the teasers of the Original Idea; otherwise they would not show it," said the public relations director of Khane-ye Film (House of Cinema), Payam Nikfard.

Meanwhile, the state-run Iran Labor News Agency (ILNA) has reported that the country's monopolized radio&TV organization (Seda va Sima) has also banned another popular movie star, Mahnaz Afshar from appearing on its networks.

"Seda va Sima has told that it would not allow the teaser of Mahnaz Afshar's latest movie, 'The Oath' being broadcast," ILNA cited the producers of the film.

The Islamic Republic's judiciary announced late Tuesday, August 13, that the prosecutors have charged Nooshin Jafari with "sacrilege," "denigrating” a religious mourning anniversary and "propaganda against the Islamic Republic."

Furthermore, the conservative allies of the country's Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, have accused Ms. Jafari of running a dissident Twitter account, 'Yar-e Dabestani' (school friend) that they had found it to be insulting to Islam.

However, Ms. Jafari's sister, Shahrzad, has denied any relation between Nooshin and the Twitter account.

In the meantime, hundreds of social media users in and outside Iran believe that arresting Jafari is the first stage of a "complex plan" devised by the Islamic Intelligence entities to suppress a number of Iranian celebrities identified as dissidents.

In recent weeks, more and more activists and dissidents have stepped forth publicly demanding the resignation of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei. Some of these individuals have already been arrested.