Protests in London over death sentence imposed on Iranian rapper Toomaj Salehi

Demonstrators protested in London on Sunday against the death sentence imposed on a rapper by a court in Iran.

They wore masks of Toomaj Salehi's face and erected a mock gallows outside Downing Street.

The 33-year-old rapper was sentenced to death by a court in the Iranian city of Isfahan earlier this week for his support of the Woman, Life, Freedom movement.

Through his music, Salehi supported months of demonstrations in Iran sparked by the death of Mahsa Amini in 2022.

She died in police custody after being arrested by morality police for allegedly wearing an "improper hijab".

During the protests that followed, Salehi was one of "the leaders of the riots who promoted violence", according to news site Iran International, citing Fars news agency which is affiliated with Iran's Revolutionary Guard.

Iranian flags and placards, including one reading "free Toomaj Salehi - death sentence for rapping", were carried by the protesters in London.

Salehi is known for using his lyrics to criticise the Islamic Republic of Iran, highlighting corruption, poverty, state executions and the killing of protesters.

He was arrested in October 2022 and was sentenced to six years in prison in 2023, avoiding a death sentence after a ruling by Iran's Supreme Court.

But that ruling appears to have been ignored.

"[This court], in an unprecedented move, did not enforce the Supreme Court's ruling... and sentenced Salehi to the harshest punishment," said Salehi's lawyer to the Iranian newspaper Shargh on Wednesday.

Salehi has 20 days to appeal the ruling.

"We will definitely appeal this verdict," his lawyer said.

Across the world, demonstrations have taken place in support of Salehi, including in Spain, the US and Australia.

On social media, the hashtag #FreeToomaj has been trending on platforms such as X, with users calling for Salehi's immediate release.