Iran releases actress Taraneh Alidoosti on bail. REUTERS./January 2023./

 – Iran has released top Iranian actress Taraneh Alidoosti on bail, state media reported on Wednesday, weeks after she was detained for criticizing a crackdown on anti-government protests that have rocked the Islamic Republic for months.

Best-known for her role in “The Salesman”, which won an Academy Award in 2017, the pro-reform artist Alidoosti had supported the protests, including by posting her picture on Instagram in November without the compulsory hijab head covering, and holding up a sign which read “Woman, Life, Freedom” in Kurdish, a popular slogan in the mass protests.

The semi-official ILNA news agency, citing her lawyer, said “Alidoosti, who was arrested on December 17, was released today on bail”, without giving further details.

Her picture, taken in front of Tehran’s Notorious Evin prison, was widely shared on social media.

The protests, sparked by the death of a young Kurdish woman while in the custody of the morality police, have posed one of the biggest legitimacy challenges to the Shi’ite Muslim-ruled Islamic Republic since the 1979 revolution.

Since Amini’s death, protesters from all walks of life have taken to the streets, calling for the downfall of the country’s clerical rulers, with women taking off and burning their headscarves in fury across the country.

Dozens of female Iranian actresses and artists have posted pictures of themselves without the compulsory hijab, in solidarity with the demonstrations in which women have played a leading role.

Facing their worst legitimacy crisis in the past four decades, Iran‘s clerical rulers have accused a coalition of “anarchists, terrorists and foreign foes” of orchestrating the protests.

The Islamic Republic has so far executed two people involved in mass protests. The Norway-based Iran Human Rights group has said that at least 100 detained protesters face possible death sentences.

(Writing by Parisa Hafezi;Editing by Bernadette Baum)