Middle East

Navab Ebrahimi: Iran arrests celebrity chef for ‘something to do with his Instagram story’

Celebrity chef and influencer Navab Ebrahimi has reportedly been arrested in Tehran and his cafe was shut down as Iran’s authorities continued their crackdown on protests.

Mr Ebrahimi, who had nearly 2.7 million followers on Instagram, was arrested on Wednesday and taken to the capital’s Evin prison.

Since his arrest, his account has also disappeared from Instagram.

He was known for promoting Persian cooking through effortless-looking videos. The authorities gave no reason for Mr Ebrahimi’s arrest, said the Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA).

It has, however, been speculated that he was arrested after posting a recipe to make Persian cutlets on the day the Iranian authorities marked the third anniversary of the killing of Revolutionary Guards general Qassem Soleimani.

Soleimani, the main architect of Iran’s regional influence, was hit by a drone strike by the US on 3 January 2020 in Baghdad. “The Americans must know that revenge for martyr Soleimani’s blood is certain, and the murderers and perpetrators will have no easy sleep,” president Ebrahim Raisi said on Tuesday.

Iranians who oppose the authoritative regime have been posting images of cutlets on the anniversary of his death, in reference to the manner of Soleimani’s killing.

“Chef and influencer Navab Ebrahimi has been arrested in Tehran. Social media users speculated that his arrest had something to do with his Instagram story” about cutlets, the New York-based Center for Human Rights in Iran said, according to news agency AFP.

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Iranian filmmaker Nik Yousefi, who was arrested in October last year during the state’s crackdown on dissent, took to Twitter to say the chef had been arrested and his cafe in the capital had been shut.

“Perhaps the reason for Nawab’s arrest can be mentioned as the darkest comedy of these protests,” Mr Yousefi he said in a tweet.

Earlier in October last year, another celebrity chef, Mehrshad Shahidi, also known as “Iran’s Jamie Oliver” was allegedly beaten to death by security forces amid anti-government protests in the country. Shahidi was killed at the age of 19, a day before his 20th birthday.

Furious protests erupted in Iran in September following the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in police custody in Tehran, where she was kept for violating the Islamic Republic’s strict dress code.

Since then, at least 470 protesters have been killed by security forces, 64 of them under the age of 18, while more than 18,200 people have been arrested, according to rights groups.

The Revolutionary Guards have pegged the number of deaths in the protest to be 300.


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