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Iran bans filmmaker from London festival ‘for supporting protests’

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London (AFP) – An Iranian filmmaker says the Islamic Republic banned him from attending the London Film Festival because of his support for the protest sparked by the death of Mahsa Amini which he called a “great moment in history “.

“I was prevented by the Iranian authorities from boarding my flight to London on Friday,” Mani Haghighi said in a video message to festival-goers tweeted by the British Film Institute (BFI).

“They gave me no reasonable explanation for this genuinely rude behavior.”

Outrage over Amini’s death on September 16, three days after his arrest by Iran’s notorious vice police, has fueled the biggest wave of street protests and violence the country has seen in years.

In response, clerical state security forces carried out a brutal crackdown that claimed the lives of dozens of protesters as well as a campaign of mass arrests of artists, dissidents, journalists and sports stars. .

The BFI said Haghighi was due to attend the London Film Festival for his latest film ‘Subtraction’, but Iranian authorities ‘seized his passport and he couldn’t leave’.

In the video message, the 53-year-old Iranian director, writer and actor said he believed authorities had stopped him from traveling abroad because of his support for the Amini protest movement.

“A few weeks ago, I recorded a video on Instagram in which I criticized Iran’s mandatory hijab laws and the crackdown on young people protesting and so many other instances of injustice in their lives.

“Perhaps the authorities thought that by keeping me here they could monitor me more closely, perhaps to threaten me and silence me.

Haghighi, however, said he does not regret being forced to stay in Iran as a “prisoner” in his own country.

“Let me tell you, being here in Tehran right now is one of the greatest joys of my life.

“I cannot put into words the joy and honor of being able to witness this great moment in history first hand and I would rather be here than anywhere else right now.

“So if this is punishment for what I did, then by all means, go for it.”