Rapper Toomaj Salehi was released on bail on 21 September 2021 after agents of the Iranian security forces arrested him in his house on 13 September 2021, following the release of songs Normal Life and Mouse Hole criticising the Iranian authorities, reported Radio Free Europe. He has since been charged with ‘spreading propaganda against the state’.
“Freedom of expression is a basic human right guaranteed by Iran’s obligations to international laws such as Article 19 of the ICCPR. Arresting Toomaj Salehi for his songs is an unlawful breach of these human rights,” said Gerd Elmark, Freemuse Interim Executive Director. “We urge the Iranian authorities to drop the charges against Toomaj Salehi. Artistic expression should be protected and guaranteed not only regarding positive and neutral expressions, but also those that can shock and disturb.”
In Normal Life and Rat Hole, Salehi aimed to address workers’ strikes, corruption, and imprisonments in the country. The artist was released on bail after, according to Al Bawaba, his house was raided on 13 September 2021, and the agents seized his personal stuff. Salehi was then taken to an unknown location.
Throughout Salehi’s detention, activists and the artistic community worldwide supported him by starting an online campaign using the #FreeToomaj hashtag to demand and pressure the Iranian authorities to release the artist.
Toomaj Salehi @ToomajSalehi , an Iranian rapper defying the Islamic Republic, has been arrested by IR forces in #Iran . Please be his voice, as he has been the voice of his people suffering under the Islamic Republic's rule. #FreeToomaj #توماج_صالحی https://t.co/ta6uUagfAq
— Hichkas (@HichkasOfficial) September 14, 2021
Listen to Salehi’s song Normal Life below:
Freemuse has constantly been documenting cases of violation of artistic freedom in which particularly rap musicians critical of the authorities are subject to arrests, legal prosecution or lengthy prison sentences. For the past 3.5 years, we have monitored more than 60 rappers facing legal consequences for expressing dissenting voices through their songs. Find out more about Freemuse response to the persecution of rappers in its tRAPped campaign.