Toomaj Salehi: Omid Djalili condemns Iran's plan to execute popular dissident rapper

Protesters hold placards after the arrest of Iranian rapper Toomaj Salehi (AFP via Getty Images)
Protesters hold placards after the arrest of Iranian rapper Toomaj Salehi (AFP via Getty Images)

Comedian Omid Djalili has condemned Iran’s plan to execute Iranian rapper Toomaj Salehi.

A lawyer for Salehi said on Wednesday that an Iranian revolutionary court had sentenced the rapper to death for charges linked to unrest in the country in 2022.

Salehi used his songs to support months of protests in Iran in 2022 sparked by the death in police custody of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old Kurdish-Iranian woman arrested for allegedly wearing an "improper" hijab.

Officials said that Amini had suffered a heart attack and was taken to hospital, but her family blamed police for her death. Amini was reportedly beaten with batons by officers and suffered a brain injury.

Salehi was initially arrested in October 2022 after making public statements in support of the nationwide protests.

Responding to the news of his sentence, Djalili wrote on X: “WTF.” He later also reposted criticism of the sentence.

Salehi was sentenced in 2023 to six years and three months in prison, but avoided a death sentence due to a Supreme Court ruling.

However, his lawyer Amir Raisan said that the Iranian Revolutionary Court had decided in an “unprecedented move” not to enforce the ruling.

Salehi, who has 2.3 million followers on Instagram, had posted videos after Amini’s death talking about “revolution” and resistance.

He now has 20 days to appeal the ruling.

Mr Raisan said that the Revolutionary Court had accused Salehi of “assistance in sedition, assembly and collusion, propaganda against the system and calling for riots”.

Djalili was born in Chelsea to Iranian Baháʼí parents and is an outspoken critic of the Iranian regime.

Last year, he spoke at the Iran Solidarity Rally in central London to mark 115 days of protests against the Iranian Government.

In a speech, he told activists that they were “changing the axis of the world.”

“When British women scream and shout for the women and girls in Iran, they are not just shouting for them, they are shouting for themselves,” he said.

“They are shouting to bring down the patriarchy. That’s what we are doing.

“We are changing the axis of the world. This is why the men are joining the women of Iran, because together we know that the patriarchy hurts people.