November 10, 2020
In an exclusive interview with Radio Farda, a young Iranian actress revealed that Iranian intelligence agents have threatened her with possible arrest and extradition
22-year-old Reyhaneh Parsa, a rising star in Iranian cinema, theater, and television in the past two years, left her homeland and currently lives in Turkey.
Speaking to Radio Farda’s Babak Ghaffouri-Azar, the young actress claimed that intelligence organizations exert pressure on Iranian movie stars to comply with the Islamic Republic’s directives.
Parsa described how she was summoned by intelligence agencies and currently faces a lawsuit has in the Cultural and Media Court.
“A movie producer, connected with the Islamic Republic’s intelligence and judicial institutions, has pressured to contact me, even now that I live in Turkey,” she said.
After leaving Iran, Parsa has appeared on social media without the so-called Islamic hijab, which is compulsory for women living in the Twelver Shi’ite clergy-dominated country.
Parsa rose to stardom after appearing in a TV series Father, directed by Behrang Tofiqi and written by Hamed Anqa. Following her success, Reyahneh published various pictures of herself on social media and attracted tens of thousands of followers.
However, Iranian authorities found her images in “loose hijab” not compatible with its dress code.
Parsa shared that she was summoned by the intelligence agencies after the publication of the images, faced psychological and physical mistreatment and later found out her phone was tapped.
“The intelligence officers believed that, by publishing my pictures on social media, I somehow intended to challenge Seda va Sima (Voice and Vision, or the monopolized state-run radio and television network),” Parsa said, adding, “Then, I was banned from working for six months.”
Parsa’s other controversial actions included a series of about men’s unilateral right to divorce and “display a different kind of lifestyle.”
However, Parsa admitted that she published the tweets at the request of an “influential movie producer” who told her that he could help resolve a legal case against her if she released these tweets.
The producer, whom Parsa declined to name, helped reduce a sentence that Parsa received after being charged with “offending public morals” from 84 lashes and a one-year jail term to a simple fine.
Parsa’s revelations shed light on the complicated relationship between producers of Iranian movies, and intelligence officers and judicial institutions.
In recent years, several Iranian filmmakers have warned of the influence of security bodies and judicial institutions on the local film production sector, claiming that many active military, judicial, and intelligence agents have infiltrated the Iranian film industry, disguised as producers.
At Iran’s most recent national Film Festival, some Iranian filmmakers called a boycott to protest the downing of a Ukrainian passenger plane over Tehran that killed all 176 passengers.
However, the producers of all the films present at the festival refused to remove their films from the contest.