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Winnipeg crowd gathers in support of Iranian rapper sentenced to death

More than two dozen people marched in Winnipeg this weekend in solidarity with a man facing the death sentence in Iran.

Toomaj Salehi, an Iranian, was sentenced to death earlier this week, according to his lawyer. He had been detained by officials in the aftermath of the death of Masha Amini, following her arrest by members of the country’s Revolutionary Guard in 2022.

That incident led to nationwide protests and mass arrests by government forces.

Salehi, a rapper, had criticized the Iranian government in his songs. Referencing Amini in one song, he sang, “Someone’s crime was dancing with her hair in the wind.”

Iran’s state-run media and officials have not yet confirmed the 33-year-old rapper’s sentence.

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Here at home, Arian Arianpour joined several people outside the Canadian Museum of Human Rights on Saturday to protest the sentence and raise public awareness.

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“This week, the Islamic Republic regime issued yet another death sentence for Toomaj Salehi. One of the most prominent artists and advocates of the ‘Women, Life, Freedom’ revolution,” said Arianpour, who is also the president of the Iran Community of Manitoba.

“But he is not the only one who is in grave danger of being executed. Countless other people are in grave danger.”

He noted that such death sentences are used by the Iranian government to intimidate people. But the people, he said, and especially Iranian women have shown valour.

“They will not back down until they free Iran,” he said.

While Iranian officials have yet to confirm the sentence, U.S. State Department spokesperson Vedant Patel condemned it on Wednesday,

“This is just another example of the Iranian regime’s horrific and pervasive human rights abuses,” Patel said.

“…(T)he Iranian regime’s … use of the death sentence as a tool to suppress people’s human rights and fundamental freedoms.”

— with files from The Associated Press’s John Gambrell.

Click to play video: 'Vancouver rally held in support of Iranian rapper Toomaj Salehi'

Vancouver rally held in support of Iranian rapper Toomaj Salehi

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