A dissident Iranian filmmaker was arrested after he attempted to inquire about two other imprisoned Iranian filmmakers. Jafar Panahi visited a court in Tehran to inquire about the case of Mohammad Rasoulof and Mostafa Al-Ahmad, Iranian filmmakers who were recently arrested over protests.

Panahi has been very vocal on Instagram about his differences with the direction of the government, especially over censorship. Two days ago Panahi posted a montage in support of Rasoulof and Ahmad and wrote, “When a government reaches a political and economic dead end, it has no tolerance for any type of civil disobedience. Thinking by suppressing and creating a crisis they can distract public opinion from the problems.”

Rasoulof and Ahmad were involved in the protests in Abadan over the Metropol building collapse, which led to dozens of deaths. The anger over the protests led to wider anti-government protests. The two filmmakers signed a statement addressed to security services that called on them to “lay down” their arms.

In his social media post, Panahi asked, “Is it a crime to ask people to abstain from violence?” Panahi wrote that charging the filmmakers with “agitating public opinion” and “connections with anti-revolutionary” forces was a tactic to charge them with spying for foreign countries, which typically carries longer prison sentences in Iran.

The arrests come after outspoken political dissident Mostafa Tajzadeh was also recently arrested. He was charged with “conspiracy to act against the country’s security” and “publishing falsehoods to disturb the public mind.” Tajzadeh, a deputy interior minister under Reformist President Mohammad Khatami, has faced numerous legal cases since 2009, all of them related to political dissidents. Tajzadeh has been extremely vocal on Twitter and has been unafraid to directly criticize Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, which is often a red line for many activists and dissidents.

Amidst the arrests of high-profile dissidents, Iran’s notorious Guidance Patrol has been harassing women on the streets who are deemed to be improperly covered. The wave of detentions and fines against women is always a controversial move that creates a great deal of resentment amongst the public, especially on social media. Images and video of the violent confrontations between women in chador and policemen in uniform with women who are wearing loose-fitting hijabs always become viral on social media and attracts the attention of foreign-based media.

An Iranian parliamentarian has also criticized the recent wave of crackdowns by the Guidance Patrol. Mohsen Pirhadi wrote a public letter addressed to the police forces criticizing the behavior of the Guidance Patrol. Pirhadi wrote that the officers used foul language with the women, were physically aggressive and were rough with the women in detention centers. The arrests came after letters were published warning women about loose clothing in government buildings.

The wave of arrests and enforcement of strict hijab laws are seen by many observers as the Raisi administration and the unelected powers in government working to consolidate power further and eliminate room for any type of dissident.

Source » al-monitor