People close to Iranian dissident rapper Toomaj Salehi say state and hardline media claims that he was trying to flee Iran when he was arrested last week are unfounded.
State and hardline media allege Toomaj was arrested in the western border region while attempting to flee the country.
Toumaji used his influence on social media to urge protesters not to give up on the streets and go on strike to overthrow the regime, although he had been arrested once before. He also taught them how to circumvent internet censorship. He was never allowed to release music or hold concerts in Iran and only connected with his fans online through his platforms such as YouTube.
The official Toomaj account on Twitter, currently operated by an administrator based outside Iran, denied the allegations He said he was arrested in his home states of Chahal Mahal and Bakhtiari, which are not near the border areas.
Photos of Toomaji Salehi released by state media after arrest
“We will be in the streets day and night until Iran is liberated. The streets are ours, we will take them back from you. I quoted one of his songs in a tweet after his arrest.
Toomaj’s London-based cousin Azadeh Babadi told Iran International on Monday that his family found out that Toomaj was being severely tortured for denouncing a youth movement against clerical rule. rice field.
“He knew he would be arrested, but he refused to leave the country,” Babadi said via video link, warning him about his safety in Iran and asking him to join her in London. He added that they had offered to help him obtain a visa.The family told all Iranians that the only way for Toomaj to regain his denied rights was to stay on the streets and continue his protests to overthrow the regime. I want you to know what I believe, she said.
“We will rise from the bottom and aim for the top of the pyramid,” Toomaj’s latest song, released last week, promises victory for protesters against the Islamic Republic.
With his politically charged songs like “buy a rat hole”(2021), Toumaji, a 32-year-old metal worker in Isfahan, spoke out against oppression, injustice, poverty, and impunity from corruption and prosecution of the authorities themselves.
The underground rapper’s song harshly criticized the regime, accusing their agents and supporters that it was time to “buy a rat hole” to hide in because the time had come for retaliation for their actions. “If you cover up a murder, you’re a murderer. To cover up a murder, you have to step into the blood,” he sang.
In September 2021, Toomaj’s home in Isfahan was raided by 12 Ministry of Information agents and he was arrested. Thousands of Iranians on social media condemned his arrest, Amnesty International called for his immediate release in a statement dated September 17.
This time around, his fans have vowed to keep his way and stay on the streets the way he wants to. “I swear in the blood of Toomaj’s blindfold to avenge all the blood you shed,” one of the rapper’s fans tweeted on Monday. Photos released by state media.
“Become his voice because he was the voice of his people suffering under the rule of the Islamic Republic,” said exiled rapper Solosh Lashkari, known as the “father of Persian rap music.” (Hichikas) tweeted to a fan After Toomaji’s arrest.
Iranian musicians of all genres must obtain a permit to release music or hold concerts. Getting permission depends more on the lyrics and the artist’s overall activity than on the genre itself, but rap and rock music are generally disliked as Western influences and not suitable for the general Iranian public. is considered.
Even recording and releasing on the Internet the kind of music that political and religious authorities classify as belonging to “degenerate Western culture” and “vulgar” is considered illegal.
For the past 40 years, religious leaders have banned national television from showing musical instruments in action, but they have, very grudgingly, never challenged the music being broadcast. . The publication of works by female singers is completely prohibited, and concerts are only allowed with singing in an all-female audience or chorus.