Iranian director Ali Abbasi wears cleric's robes and vampire teeth in red carpet protest

He joins host of prominent figures expressing solidarity with protesters in Iran

Abbasi at the UK premiere of his film 'Holy Spider. Getty for BFI
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Iranian film director Ali Abbasi appeared on the red carpet at the London Film Festival on Saturday wearing a cleric’s robe and blood-stained vampire teeth in a show of solidarity with protesters in Iran.

Abbasi also held up signs saying “Silence is violence” and “#MahsaAmini”, referring to the young woman whose death in police custody in Tehran has sparked more than three weeks of nationwide demonstrations against Iran’s ruling clerics.

More than 150 people been killed in a crackdown by security forces since the protests began on September 17, Iranian human rights groups say.

Abbasi, who was at the UK premiere of his film Holy Spider, joins a host of Iranian entertainment and sports figures who have expressed support for the protesters.

Several have been arrested, including singer Shervin Hajipour whose song Baraye (meaning "For”) became an anthem of the protest movement.

Hajipour was released on bail on October 4.

The semi-official Ilna news agency reported on Sunday that officials seized the passports of Homayoun Shajarian, a prominent singer, and Sahar Dolatshahi, an actress, after the pair returned to Iran from a concert tour in Australia on Saturday.

Their passports were taken at Tehran’s international airport, the news agency said.

Shajarian expressed support for the protesters during his foreign tour. He had a large photo of Amini as a stage backdrop at one of his concerts and performed an old song dealing with cruelty and oppressors.

Another backdrop had the caption: “Don’t kill these people. These people deserve life, not death. These people deserve happiness and freedom. My position is clear, I will always stand by the people of my land.”

At least four presenters from Iran’s state broadcasting organisation, Irib, have resigned “in support of the Iranian people’s protests”, a reporter from the reformist daily Shargh tweeted on Sunday.

Updated: June 19, 2023, 12:59 PM