Jail, beatings for Iranian pop star protesting against compulsory head covering

Henry

An Iranian court has sentenced pop singer Mehdi Yarrahi to prison and 74 lashes over a song in which he encourages women to remove their compulsory head covering.

Yarrahi’s lawyer, Zahra Minouei, says the revolutionary court of Tehran “sentenced Yarrahi to a total of two years and eight months in prison” after he was found guilty on several charges.

According to Iranian law, prison sentences are served concurrently, which means that Yarrahi will be behind bars for a year, Minouei added.

The 42-year-old singer was arrested in August last year for distributing an “illegal song” that challenges the “moral values ​​and customs of Islamic society”. He was only released on bail in October last year.

Yarrahi released the single titled “Roosarito” shortly before his arrest. In Farsi it means “your head covering”.

The song is in support of a protest movement about Mahsa Amini (22) who died in custody for allegedly violating the Islamic republic’s strict rules on dress that require a woman’s head and neck to be covered.

A three-minute video was launched together with the launch of “Roosarito” and supports women’s right to choose whether they want to wear the headscarf or not. The song is also dedicated to the “courageous Iranian women” who were involved in the protest movement in 2022.

Another song by Yarrahi, “Soroode Zan”, translated as “women’s song”, which was launched in October 2022, became a protest song especially on university campuses.

Yarrahi repeatedly criticizes the authorities during his concerts, especially for discrimination in his ethnically diverse southwestern home province of Khuzestan.