Life of Iranian dissident rapper kidnapped by IRGC in danger

Authorities in Iran have arrested Toomaj Salehi, an Iranian dissident rapper who has gained fans among Iranians who are angry at the country’s Islamic establishment.

People close to Iranian dissident rapper Toomaj Salehi say state and hardliner media’s claims that he was trying to flee Iran when he was arrested last week are baseless.

Toomaj’s London-based cousin Azadeh Babadi told Iran International Monday that the family has found out he is being severely tortured to denounce the youth movement against the clerical rule.

In September 2021 Toomaj’s home in Esfahan was raided by twelve intelligence ministry agents and he was arrested. Thousands of Iranians on social media condemned his arrest and Amnesty International demanded his immediate release in a statement on September 17.

This time his fans are vowing to continue his path and stay on the streets as he wanted. “We swear on the blood on Toomaj’s blindfold that we will take revenge for all the blood that you have shed,” one of the rapper’s fans tweeted Monday referring to a blood stain on the blindfold put over his eyes in a photo released by the state media.

Toomaj used his social media influence to encourage protesters not to give up the streets and join strikes to topple the regime, although he had already been arrested once before. He also taught them ways to circumvent internet censorship. He was never allowed to release his music in Iran or hold concerts and connected with his fans only through online platforms such as YouTube.

In the past four decades, top religious authorities have prevented musical instruments from being shown in action on state television although very reluctantly they have withheld objection to music being broadcast. Female singers are totally banned from publishing their work and concerts are allowed only for all female audiences or if they sing in a chorus.

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