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DUBAI, United Arab Emirates, May 15, (AP): An award-wining Iranian filmmaker said authorities raided the offices and homes of several filmmakers and other industry professionals and arrested some of them. Mohammad Rasoulof said in a statement signed by dozens of movie industry professionals on his Instagram account late Saturday that security forces made some arrests and confiscated film production equipment during raids conducted in recent days. The statement condemned the actions and called them “illegal.” In a separate Instagram post, Rasoulof identified two of the detained filmmakers as Firouzeh Khosravani and Mina Keshavarz. Rasoulof was not targeted in the recent raids. Iranian media and authorities have not commented on the raids and no additional details were immediately available.
Authorities in Iran occasionally arrest activists in cultural fields over alleged security violations. Rasoulof won the Berlin Film Festival’s top prize in 2020 for his film “There Is No Evil.” It tells four stories loosely connected to the themes of the death penalty in Iran and personal freedoms under tyranny. Shortly after receiving the award he was sentenced to a year in prison for three films he made that authorities found to be “propaganda against the system.” His lawyer appealed the sentence. He was also banned from making films and traveling abroad. Iran’s conservative authorities, many with religious sensibilities, control all the levers of power in Iran. They have long viewed many cultural activities as part of a “soft war” by the West against the Islamic Republic. They say Westernization is attempting to tarnish the country’s Islamic beliefs.