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Iran arrests rapper who blasted ‘regime apologists’: Rights group

“Without your apologism, this regime is incomplete,” Salehi says in a song, referring to the National Iranian American Council (NIAC), a US-based NGO accused by Iranian dissidents of lobbying on behalf of the Iranian regime.

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Iran earlier this week arrested an Iranian rapper who openly criticized the regime, its “apologists” abroad, and the status quo in the country in his songs.

Security forces arrested Toomaj Salehi at his home in Isfahan on Monday and took him to an unknown location, the Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) reported.

HRANA is a news site run by a group of Iranian human rights advocates.

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“Security forces searched his home and took away some of his personal belongings,” the agency said.

The Iranian judiciary and state media have not commented on Salehi’s arrest.

Days before his arrest, Salehi had said on his Twitter account that he may be arrested. His Instagram account, where he posted his songs, as well as his Twitter account, are no longer accessible.

Some Iranian activists believe one of Salehi’s latest songs, titled “Soorakh Moosh” (Mouse Hole), is what led to his arrest.

The song went viral on social media last month and was well received by many Iranians who praised Salehi for openly criticizing the regime from inside Iran.

Regime apologists

Salehi went a step further in the song, criticizing not only the regime, but also those he referred to as supporters and “apologists” of the regime, both at home and abroad.

“Without your apologism, this regime is incomplete,” Salehi says in the song, criticizing journalists, celebrities, and the National Iranian American Council (NIAC), a Washington-based NGO.

NIAC has been repeatedly accused by Iranian dissidents of lobbying on behalf of the Iranian regime, working against the interests of the Iranian diaspora in the US whom it claims to represent, and coordinating closely with figures within the Iranian regime, namely former foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif.

Some Iranians took to social media following Salehi’s arrest to call for his release using the hashtag FreeToomaj.

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