Saturday 05 December 2015

Top Iranian singer arrested over protest for women's rights

A leading Iranian singer-songwriter has been arrested over a new music video that condemns his government's treatment of women.

Yaghma Golrouee was held by intelligence officers from the country's feared Revolutionary Guard, the defenders of the Iranian regime's religious ideology.

They are thought to have taken offence at his new video, a compilation of footage of Iranian women's struggle for equal rights, which talks about how they are "happy and alive, despite being jailed."

Mr Golrouee was taken away from his house on Monday, according a message on an Instagram page apparently maintained by his wife, Athena Habibi.

"The security agents came and searched all over our home and then arrested Yaghma Golrouee and took him away without telling us where they were taking him,” the message said. “We have not had any news about him since and are extremely worried about his health and safety.”

• Iran's regime joins campaign against actress who posted images without wearing a hijab

Mr Golrouee, 40, has had a number of run-ins with the authorities because of his fondness for mixing his love ballads with commentary on social issues such as poverty and drug addiction. Last month, he criticised authorities for blocking a book from being published because of pressure from hardliners.

His detention follows the recent arrests of other writers and artists, including five journalists, two poets and a cartoonist. Despite the recent thawing of relations with the West via a deal over Iran's disputed nuclear programme, the country's president, Hassan Rouhani, has made little headway on improving human rights and social freedoms.

State-backed "morality patrols" continue to enforce strict regulations on women wearing headscarves, and Mr Rouhani seems to have little interest in protest movements by women demanding the right to go uncovered.

“We have so many issues so we don’t have time for these things," he said. "Everyone in Iran is free in their own private lives to do as they please. But when someone lives in Iran, they should abide by the laws of the country.”

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