A vigil in Tehran for a late Iranian musician outside the hospital where he died morphed into an anti-government protest on Thursday night. Videos posted to social media appear to show people chanting “death to the dictator” during the demonstration.
Classical composer and singer Mohammad Reza Shajarian, 80, died of a heart attack at a hospital in Tehran, Iran’s capital, on Thursday. His son, Homayoun, announced the news on his Instagram account, writing that Shajarian “flew to meet his beloved [God].”
The musician enjoyed a long and illustrious career as a master of traditional Persian music and was revered by the Iranian public. Shajarian became “a symbol for the Iranian opposition after he declared his support for the protests over the disputed reelection of former president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in 2009,” according to Saudi news outlet Al Arabiya.
Shajarian’s reputation later in life as a political dissident within Iran seemed to spark the anti-government chants allegedly heard at his informal vigil on Thursday.
One video shared to Twitter appears to show people chanting “Death to the dictator” outside Tehran’s Jam hospital, where Shajarian passed away, on Thursday.
«ننگ ما ننگ ما صداوسیمای ما»
شعار مردم در برابر بیمارستان جم در پی درگذشت محمدرضا شجریان در اعتراض به سالها سانسور و حذف استاد موسیقی ایران در صداوسیمای جمهوری اسلامی، پنجشنبه ۱۷ مهر ۹۹#محمدرضا_شجریان #محمدرضاشجریان pic.twitter.com/oPQszzOYvQ
— Tavaana (@Tavaana) October 8, 2020
“This chant is commonly used in anti-government protests in Iran and is directed at Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei,” Al Arabiya noted.
In a separate video of the demonstration posted to Twitter, people appear to target Iran’s state broadcaster, which had banned the playing of Shajarian’s songs since he expressed anti-government sentiments in 2009.
“Our radio and television is our disgrace,” people were heard chanting.
مرگ بر دیکتاتور pic.twitter.com/Nt5ePOSi7V
— morteza kazemian (@morkazemian) October 8, 2020
Other videos circulating on social media in Iran allegedly “showed a heavy presence of security forces” outside Tehran’s Jam hospital “as well as clashes between protesters and security forces,” according to the report.