Toomaj Salehi: Iranian rapper sentenced to death for supporting Mahsa Amini protests, says lawyer

Iran has sentenced a renowned rapper to death for backing protests in the country, his lawyer has said.

Hip-hop artist Toomaj Salehi, through his music, supported months of demonstrations in Iran in 2022 sparked by the death of Mahsa Amini who was arrested by morality police for allegedly wearing an "improper hijab".

Officials said Amini had suffered a heart attack and was taken to hospital, but her family blamed the police for her death, and reports say that she was beaten with batons and suffered a brain injury.

During the protests that followed, Salehi was one of "the leaders of the riots who promoted violence", news site Iran International reported citing Fars news agency, affiliated with Iran's Revolutionary Guard which supports the strict Islamic dress code for women.

The rapper was arrested in October 2022 and then released. But in 2023 he was sentenced to six years in prison, avoiding a death sentence following a Supreme Court ruling.

Salehi, who has 2.3 million followers on Instagram, had posted videos after Amini's death talking about "revolution" and resistance.

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In one video, posted on 28 October 2022, Salehi's caption read: "This is a revolution and every step we take is mandatory to achieve it."

He has reportedly received awards for his protest music, including the Cultures of Resistance Award and the Golden Lily Medal given to him by the Municipality of Florence.

Salehi's lawyer, speaking to the Iranian newspaper Shargh on Wednesday, said: "Branch One of the Revolutionary Court of (the central city of) Isfahan in an unprecedented move, did not enforce the Supreme Court's ruling... and sentenced Salehi to the harshest punishment."

The Iranian court has not confirmed the sentence yet.

Salehi has 20 days to appeal the ruling.

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