Amid the ongoing anti-hijab protests in Iran, celebrity chef Mehrshad Shahidi, who was also known as Iran’s Jamie Oliver, was allegedly beaten to death by the nation’s Revolutionary Guard forces, the day before his 20th birthday. His “ruthless” killing triggered an outpouring of grief in Iran, where thousands of people reportedly took to the streets on Saturday during the funeral held for Mr Shahidi.
According to The Telegraph, the 19-year-old was arrested during a protest and beaten to death with batons while in the custody of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard in Arak city. He was killed after receiving blows to his skull, however, Mr Shahidi’s family stated that they were pressured to say their son died of a heart attack.
The Iranian authorities, on the other hand, denied responsibility for the chef’s death. As per 7News, Iran’s Chief Justice Abdolmehdi Mousavi even said that there were “no signs” of fractures in his arms, legs or skull or any brain injury.
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However, on social media, several users blamed the Iranian authorities for his death. Iranian American author Dr Nina Ansary wrote, “He (Mehrshad Shahidi) was a talented young chef at Boote Restaurant. He was ruthlessly killed by security forces in Iran. Tomorrow would have been his 20th birthday. We will never forget. We will never forgive.”
Another user, who claimed to be Mr Shahidi’s cousin, said, “For #MehrshadShahidi , my innocent 19-year-old cousin, who was killed yesterday in Iran. After work, on his way back to home, he was attacked by tear gas, felt off his motorcycle, and kidnapped …, later on, they called his family to come and receive his dead body..”
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A third commented, “Another bright light taken from us. From the city of my Grandfather’s birth. What does it say about government willing to murder it’s youngest and brightest citizens”.
Meanwhile, hundreds of people have been reportedly killed by Iranian security forces during the protests which began following the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, who died while in the custody of Iran’s morality police after being arrested for not wearing her hijab properly. However, Iranian authorities have sought to portray the protest movement as a plot hatched by its arch-enemy the United States.