Iranian Celebrity Chef Arrested After Allegedly Poking Fun at Assassinated Iranian Commander With Recipe
An Iranian celebrity chef, Instagram influencer and restaurant owner was arrested in Tehran last week allegedly in response to a recipe he shared on the anniversary of Iranian Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani’s assassination.
Navab Ebrahimi’s Instagram account was also deleted following his arrest on Jan. 4 and he was sent to Iran’s notorious Evin Prison, according to the Human Rights Activists News Agency, a press association established in 2009 by Iranian human rights advocates. Ebrahimi’s cafe in Tehran was ordered to be shut down after his arrest, according to a sign placed on the front of his restaurant that was shared on Twitter by Iranian filmmaker and photographer Nik Yousefi. The sign also says in Farsi that anyone who dares to reopen the cafe will be punished.
Soleimani, head of Iran’s elite Quds Force, was killed by a US airstrike in Iraq on Jan. 3, 2020, ordered by then-President Donald Trump.
Ebrahimi was popular on social media for posting Persian recipes and had 2.7 million followers on Instagram. On the third anniversary of Soleimani’s assassination, Ebrahimi shared on Instagram a recipe for Persian kabobs, called kotlets in Farsi. The Guardian explained that sharing photos of meat cutlets on the anniversary of Soleimani’s death has become a way for dissidents, who were opposed to Soleimani’s regime, to mock the deceased Iranian commander.
“Social media users speculate that his arrest had something to do with his Instagram story about ‘#kotlet,’ a Persian food, the name of which has been used to refer to IRGC general Qasem Soleimani,” the New York-based Center for Human Rights in Iran said.
Ehrahimi is one of many Iranians to be recently arrested by Iranian security forces in its crackdown on nationwide protests that began following the death of Iranian Kurdish woman Mahsa Amini in September last year while she was in police custody.