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Iran’s Celebrity Chef ruthlessly beaten to death

Praneeta Mahajan

Praneeta Mahajan

Hamilton, 2 November 2022

Chef Mehrshad Shahidi (Photo by Boote restaurant)

Amid the ongoing anti-hijab protests in Iran, celebrity chef Mehrshad Shahidi, who was also known as Iran’s Jamie Oliver, was allegedly beaten to death by the nation’s Revolutionary Guard forces, the day before his 20th birthday. His “ruthless” killing triggered an outpouring of grief in Iran, where thousands of people reportedly took to the streets on Saturday during the funeral held for Mr Shahidi.

According to The Telegraph UK,  the 19-year-old was arrested during a protest and beaten to death with batons while in the custody of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard in Arak city. He was killed after receiving blows to his skull. However, Mr Shahidi’s family stated that they were pressured to say their son died of a heart attack.

The Iranian authorities, on the other hand, denied responsibility for the chef’s death. Iran’s Chief Justice Abdolmehdi Mousavi even said that there were “no signs” of fractures in his arms, legs or skull or any brain injury.

Public support grows

On social media, several users blamed the Iranian authorities for his death. Iranian American author Dr Nina Ansary wrote, “He (Mehrshad Shahidi) was a talented young chef at Boote Restaurant. He was ruthlessly killed by security forces in Iran. Tomorrow would have been his 20th birthday. We will never forget it. We will never forgive.”

So far, hundreds of people have been reportedly killed by Iranian security forces during the protests which began following the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, who died while in the custody of Iran’s morality police after being arrested for not wearing her hijab properly.

But the Iranian authorities have sought to portray the protest movement as a plot hatched by its arch-enemy the United States.

Meanwhile, in New Zealand, there have been several protests in support of the people of Iran and their human rights. Just last week, some protesters demonstrated outside the Iranian embassy in Wellington. They were opposing the brutal crackdown on protesters in Iran.

Protests grow following Chef Shahidi’s death (Photo by Dia Images/Getty Images)

New Zealand’s Views

New Zealand has suspended its bilateral Human Rights Dialogue with Iran as Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Foreign Minister Nanaia Mahuta announced New Zealand’s response to the anti-regime protests crackdown in Iran earlier this week.

In a tweet, Foreign Minister Nanaia Mahuta said Aotearoa was “appalled” by the use of force by Iranian authorities. She said that Violence against women, girls or any other members of Iranian society to prevent their exercise of universal human rights is unacceptable and must end.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said earlier that she was urging United Nations member states to remove Iran from the UN Commission for Status of Women. While advice had been sought on further actions that could be taken by the government to amplify condemnation of Iran’s human rights abuse and demonstrate support to all those in Iran, The suspension was intended to send a clear message, she said.

The way forward gets tougher

Shahidi’s funeral, which took place on Sunday, became the scene of yet more anti-government protests. One Iranian affairs commentator, Dr Reza Taghizadeh, told The Telegraph that the death of the popular Shahidi, who also worked as head chef at the University of Arak, had triggered a “second and an even greater wave of national protests against the regime, in the same way, Mahsa Amini’s death did a month ago.”

Praneeta Mahajan is an Indian Newslink Reporter based in Hamilton.

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