Fears grow for arrested Iranian comedian : News 2022 – Chortle
Zainab Mousavi had spoken out against regime
Fears are growing for the safety of an Iranian comedian who was arrested yesterday for speaking out against the regime.
Security forces seized Zainab Mousavi at her father’s home in the holy city of Qom, according to the Tehran-based Moj news agency. BBC Persian has also reported the news
A post shared by BBC NEWS فارسی (@bbcpersian)
The 33-year-old has almost 800,000 followers on Instagram, where she appears as the Empress of Kuzcoo – a parody of an old villager who wears a hijab that reveals only her nose. She is also a stand-up who has appeared on the Iranian TV show Khandevaneh.
Her latest video, to mark International Day Of The Girl on Tuesday, was a blackly funny sketch about how women should kill themselves before the regime does it for them. It is seen as a comment on the death of 16-year-old Nika Shakaram after she was seen on Instagram burning her headscarf chanting: 'Death to dictator.' The Iranian government claimed it was suicide.
Iran has been in turmoil since 22-year-old Mahsa Amini died last month after reportedly being beaten in police custody following her arrest for not wearing the hijab. It death sparked protests across the country, with at least 200 people, including eight children, killed by security forces, according to human rights watchers.
Campaign group Iran Human Rights say they have received reports of the mass arrests of protesters and activists identified by intelligence agencies. They add: ‘The use of torture and ill-treatment against protesters has been widely reported, with at least two deaths in custody. Families have told Iran Human Rights that their loved ones are under pressure to force televised confessions.’
And last week, the Center For Human Rights in Iran said at least 1,200 people – including artists and film-makers – have been arrested in the wake of the protests ‘as the authorities move to crush the societal outcry over the government’s repression and brutality’.
Mousavi has often been threatened because of her comedy, saying in one online video posted in 2017: 'I get threats to be attacked by acid, or they want to run me over, or do harm to me, I get sworn at… I’m under pressure.’
And in an interview with The Guardian, she said: ‘Considering Iranian cultural and social norms, doing stand-up here is by itself really difficult, and doing it as a female comedian is even harder. Being a female stand-up comedian in Iran is like competing in a swimming competition whilst you are three metres behind the starting line and your hands and legs are tied.’
Anglo-Iranian comic Omid Djalili has urged the global comedy community to get behind Mousavi’s cause and demand her immediate release.
He posted a message on Instagram while wearing a headscarf covering his whole face, mimicking Mousavi’s @iamkuzcooo videos.
A post shared by Omid Djalili (@omiddjalili)
In it, he said: ‘A lot of women around the world are cutting their hair ins solidarity with the women of Iran. That’s not really an option for me.
‘But I do stand with my sister @iamkuzcooo (Zeinab Mousavi) who yesterday was arrested by the security forces for speaking out agains the atrocities that are happening in Iran right now – the deaths of Mahsa Amini and a lot of other girls. I stand with her and on behalf of the comedy community. I demand her immediate release. Spread the word.’
Published: 13 Oct 2022
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