The re-arrest and violent detention of Iranian rapper Toomaj Salehi have ignited widespread condemnation and concern.
Social media users described his arrest earlier this week as a "kidnapping" and a manifestation of the regime's fear of Salehi's outspokenness as a protesting rapper.
Salehi, 33, was detained by plainclothes on a street in Babol, located in the north of Iran, on Thursday. He was subsequently transferred to an undisclosed location. Salehi's X page reported that the arrest took place without any judicial order and involved "severe physical abuse," with officers allegedly beating him using the butts of their AK-47 rifles and pistols.
The incident comes after Salehi spent over a year in prison, with 252 days in solitary confinement. He had been released on bail on November 18th. In response to his re-arrest, social media users initiated a trending campaign on Friday, with more than 75,000 mentions of Toomaj Salehi on the X social network. Many posts questioned his whereabouts.
Ye-One Rhie, a representative in the German parliament and Salehi's political sponsor, urgently called for his release in a video message. Rhie emphasized the importance of shedding light on the actions of the Iranian regime, stating, "Everyone needs to know what the Iranian regime is doing, that it is not abiding by its own constitution and kidnapping people for no reason."
Salehi gained prominence as an artist known for his protest songs addressing social issues and government injustices in Iran. The 33-year-old rapper was initially arrested on October 30th 2022, as part of a broader crackdown on regime's political opponents.