Iranian singer sentenced to prison, flogging, lawyer says

Iranian singer Mehdi Yarrahi is seen in a photo from his Instagram.

Singer Mehdi Yarrahi has been sentenced to two years and eight months in prison plus 74 lashes, his attorney Zahra Minoui said on Tuesday.

Yarrahi, 42, was arrested in August on multiple charges in connection with a song that criticized the mandatory wearing of a headscarf for women.

He was sentenced by the Tehran Revolutionary Court, but under Iranian law he will serve his sentence concurrently, meaning he will serve one year, Minoui said.

The pop singer was arrested four days after he released "Roosarito" a month before the anniversary of the death of Mahsa Amini, the young Kurdish woman who died in police custody on September 16, 2022. She was accused of violating the strict dress code on the proper wearing of a hijab. "Roosarito" means "your headscarf."

Government-linked media outlets accused him of "releasing an illicit and morally inappropriate song that contradicts the Islamic societal norms."

The artist, before his arrest and after the legal proceedings against him became known, took to X, formerly Twitter, with the hashtag "Woman, Life, Freedom," stating, "Do not weep; I am the nightmare haunting this judge."

"Let us raise the voice of protest and persistently speak out on the anniversary of Mahsa Amini's murder," he said.

Another of his songs, "Soroode Zan," or “Women's Anthem,” became a protest anthem, especially on university campuses, after it was released in October 2022.

Yarrahi is a past winner of the best pop singer award at the Fajr Festival, Iran's most important government-backed music event.