September 18, 2021
Amnesty International on Friday demanded the immediate release of Iranian dissident, underground rap singer Toomaj Salehi who was arrested by security agents earlier this week after a harshly critical song was released on social media.
“Iran’s authorities must immediately and unconditionally release #TomajSalehi, a dissident rap artist detained solely for exercising his right to freedom of expression,” Amnesty tweeted.
In his latest song, ‘Rat Hole’ or ‘Mouse Hole’, Salehi harshly criticized the regime and those who directly or indirectly support its repression. “You are a murderer if you cover up murder. To cover up murder you must walk on blood. The system is not complete without your apologies [for it],” the lyrics of the song say.
There is no news about the rapper’s whereabouts or the charges he faces.
His arrest led to a heated debate among Iranian activists and social media users, when some individuals such as the New York Times’ Iranian journalist Farnaz Fassihi tweeted that his song is a threat against some people. Many activists saw her tweet as condoning the arrest.
Fassihi came under fire by other Twitterati who have repeatedly assailed her as a “regime apologist”. Toomaj’s defenders insist that an artist cannot be arrested for what he depicts in his art and he has not threatened any particular individual.