Nasser Malek Motiee, 88, passed away from kidney failure on Friday May 25. Those coming out to mourn the actor, included large numbers of young people who, thanks to suppression by the Regime, wouldn’t have seen a lot of his work.
Malek Motiee was one of the best-known actors in Iran before the mullahs took over, but for almost four decades prior to his death, the mullahs in Iran prevented him from appearing in movies and TV shows.
Current actors in Iran also began to criticise the state-run media for ignoring legendary stars, like Malek Motiee and exiled actor Behrouz Vosouqi, in their news coverage. Actor Parviz Parastoee, who was speaking at a ceremony for the Iranian filmmakers’ trade union, criticised the media for ignoring Malek Motiee until his death.
In fact, this was the first time in 40 years that the state-run media could even publish his photo or pay homage to him. This increased their circulation and viewership immensely, but the state press still suppressed his final interviews. While Malek Motiee occasionally spoke to his fans on social media, these interviews would have been his last chance to address his fans, so they are angry.
Thus, thousands of mourners began to condemn the Regime for their censorship of the star and, as with so many gatherings in Iran, it quickly changes into an overall uprising against the Regime.
The protesters began chanting angry slogans against the Regime, including one that they’d cleverly borrowed from one of Malek Motiee’s movies: “Qeisar! Help! They slaughter the people!”.
This protest, which can be seen in videos across social media, attracted the Iranian Regime’s suppressive security forces in droves. Some plainclothes agents rode motorcycles and attempted to stop the protesters from gathering, while some fired tear gas to disperse people.
This is far from the first time that gathering has quickly turned into an anti-regime protest in Iran this year. From the protests over a draft budget that sparked the initial protests in January to the Iranian new year celebrations in March that brought a new wave of the uprising to the demonstrations against redrawing some boundary lines.
Simply, the protests we are seeing in Iran are rarely about one issue. Instead, they are about the Iranian people’s desire to overthrow the corrupt Regime that is oppressing them and causing chaos across the Middle East. No one should be under any illusion; the Iranian people want regime change and they will get it.