Iranian Actor Mohsen Afshani Arrested for Posting Provocative Video on Social Media

Police have arrested the Iranian actor and TV presenter Mohsen Afshani after he posted a video clip on his Instagram page that showed him waving a handgun and a knife while driving around in a car with his wife, the state-affiliated Young Journalist Club (YJC) reported, citing Colonel Touraj Kazemi, a senior officer of the Iranian Cyber Police.

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“The Iranian Cyber Police force opened an investigation after Mohsen Afshani posted the footage on social media,” Colonel Kazemi said. “The Judiciary subsequently issued an arrest warrant for Mr. Afshani, who, in the video clip, waves a handgun and brandishes a knife while driving a car with his wife in the passenger seat.”

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Colonel Kazemi added: “Mr. Afshani has since removed the clip from his Telegram page. The police have filed charges against him and are continuing to investigate the incident.”

Afshani has a large following on social media. He frequently posts provocative videos on his Instagram page. In the video that has led to his arrest, he and his wife lip-sync to a song while driving around in a car. The footage then shows Afshani playing with a gun and making gestures with a knife.

Afshani reportedly charges fees for promoting young and up-and-coming artists by lip-syncing their songs in videos which he posts on his Instagram page. He also allegedly manages a gambling website.

The actor, who enjoys the support of the Iranian establishment, is said to walk to the city of Karbala, in central Iraq, during the holy month of Moharram every year.

While some have suggested that Afshani is holding a Russian-made semi-automatic Makarov pistol in the video, others have said that it is only a toy or a prop gun.

Many on social media have lambasted the police and the Judiciary for exercising double standards in enforcing the law.

@khastee tweeted: “Police has detained Afshani for the footage depicting violence. Hopefully, he gets what he deserves, but that is unlikely.”

@qomnews posted a photograph of Afshani on May 22 with an accompanying text that read: “Mohsen Afshani, an actor and social media activist, appeared this morning at the office of a source of emulation to answer some religious questions.”

In response, @andinoaydini wrote: “The tweet reveals who protects Afshani and why he can wave a gun with impunity.”

@samiraalampanah tweeted: “Mohsen Afshani has a gambling website. He pulls a gun and criticizes the government, but no one can touch him because he has friends in high places. Police do not dare question him. Meanwhile, security forces assault a 15-year-old girl and her friends for splashing water on each other in a park.”

On June 26, police used physical force to restrain and arrest a 15-year-old girl and a group of teenagers for playing in Tehranpars Park, in the northeastern part of Tehran. The incident received national coverage on state media, which portrayed the young boys and girls arrested as thugs and troublemakers who had assaulted the police.

[Translated from Persian by Fardine Hamidi]