Sereen Badiei, aka Sereen Curtis, in Tehran (March 2024)

Controversy Surrounds Arrest Of US-Iranian Citizen Sereen Badiei

Tuesday, 03/26/2024

The arrest of Sereen Badiei, a US-Iranian dual national in Iran, who calls himself a "prince," has stirred controversy in Iranian social media and news websites worldwide.

Badiei, also known as Sereen Curtis, and calling himself as Prince Sereen, has been detained in Alborz province, on charges of "insulting sanctities," Iran's Judiciary confirmed.

"After informing the accused of the charges and issuing a temporary detention order, following the introduction to prison, he was handed over to the officer for further investigation," stated Mehdi Keshtdar, CEO of Mizan News Agency, affiliated with Iran's Judiciary.

Born in Tehran in 1973, Sereen, 51, who had been residing in the United States, faced criticism for his controversial videos targeting Islam, Shiite religion, the Quran, and the Iranian government.

The arrest has triggered varied reactions with some social media users expressing concerns about his fate and potential severe sentencing given his history.

"It doesn't matter to anyone that Sareen was arrested. Everyone makes jokes and laughs at him, as if he isn't an Iranian whose life matters…," lamented one user.

In contrast, supporters of the government welcomed his detention.

Demanding his execution, user Sadaf labeled Sereen as the perpetrator of insulting Muslim sanctities, while others accused him of immorality.

However, some users viewed Sereen's arrest as a ploy by the Iranian government to divert attention from pressing issues such as the exchange rate, inflation, and financial corruption allegations.

Iran frequently detains individuals holding Western passports and leverages them as bargaining tools. The resurgence of dual national hostages has come to attention following a recent Qatar-mediated agreement to release $6 billion in Iranian funds held in South Korea, in exchange for the freedom of five US citizens.

This has sparked accusations that the Biden administration is engaging in a risky strategy that could incentivize further hostage-taking of dual nationals overseas.

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