Iran jails celebrity chef who posted cutlets video on Suleimani anniversary

Navab Ebrahimi arrested after posting a recipe for a dish opponents of the regime use to refer to the IRGC commander killed by a US drone

Iranian chef Navab Ebrahimi has about 2.7 million followers on Instagram
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Iran has detained a prominent chef and Instagram influencer known for his videos promoting Persian cooking, in its crackdown on nationwide protests, human rights groups and supporters said on Thursday.

Navab Ebrahimi was arrested in Tehran on Wednesday and taken to the city's Evin prison, the Human Rights Activists News Agency said.

No reason was given for the arrest of Mr Ebrahimi, who has about 2.7 million followers on Instagram where he posts slickly produced videos showing how to prepare classic Persian dishes.

But social media users said the chef's arrest coincided with him posting a video for making Persian cutlets on the day Iranian authorities observed the third anniversary of the killing of Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps commander Qassem Suleimani by the United States.

Some Iranians opposed to the regime have made a habit of posting images of cutlets on the anniversary of Gen Soleimani's death, in reference to the manner of his killing in a US drone strike in Iraq.

"Chef and influencer Navab Ebrahimi has been arrested in Tehran. Social media users speculate that his arrest had something to do with his Instagram story" about cutlets, said the New York-based Centre for Human Rights in Iran.

Nik Yousefi, an Iranian filmmaker and photographer who was arrested in October as part of the crackdown and then released, also wrote on Twitter that Mr Ebrahimi had been arrested and his cafe in Tehran, Noj, shut down.

Mr Ebrahimi's Instagram account is no longer accessible.

As the Iranian authorities organised commemorative events on Wednesday to mourn Suleimani's death, opponents shared images of people torching his image on banners.

According to the UN, Iran has arrested at least 14,000 people in the wave of protests sparked by the September 16 death in custody of Mahsa Amini, 22, an Iranian Kurdish woman who had been arrested for allegedly breaching Iran's strict dress code for women.

Prominent journalists, filmmakers, lawyers and activists have been arrested. Some have been released on bail, including the actress Taraneh Alidoosti, but others remain in prison.

Updated: January 06, 2023, 8:03 AM