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Iran Arrests Popular Dissident Actress

Iran has arrested a popular actress and vocal critic of the Islamic government to keep her from travelling abroad and speaking to foreign press.
By Gabe Kahn.
First Publish: 7/18/2011, 7:27 PM / Last Update: 7/18/2011, 11:07 PM

A popular Iranian actress and outspoken critic of the government has been arrested in Tehran. The Farsi-language service of Deutsche Welle reports that  Pegah Ahangarani, 27, was scheduled to go to Germany to participate in TV programmes about the FIFA Women's World Cup, but was takn from her home in the capital by security officials last Sunday.

Ahangarani fell foul of the Islamic Republic when she openly and proudly campaigned for opposition leader Mir Hossain Mousavi in Iran's 2009 presidential elections, but escaped arrest until last week because of her widespread popularity.
 
She is the second woman to have been arrested in recent weeks in connection with Germany's Women's World Cup. 
 
Mariam Majd, a prominent Iranian photographer and activist who had campaigned for women to be allowed to enter stadiums to watch football matches in Iran, was arrested in late June before going to Germany, where she wanted to work on a book about women's sports.
 
Confirmation
 
Within days of Ahangarani going missing, Deutsche Welle — Germany's international broadcasting service, which had invited her to Berlin — confirmed the arrest. 
 
"The Farsi-language service of Deutsche Welle, Germany's international broadcasting service, has learned from people close to the actress that Ahangarani has been arrested," the news organisation said.
 
"Deutsche Welle had set up a blog for Ahanagarani, who enjoys broad popularity in Iran, to report on the Women's World Cup soccer championships currently being held in Germany," it added.
 
At least four other women rights activists have been arrested in recent weeks, including Mahnaz Mohammadi, an acclaimed documentary filmmaker, Zahra Yazdani, a journalist and campaigners Mariam Bahrman and Mansoureh Behkish.
 
Pegah Ahangarani, the daughter of acclaimed Iranian film makers Jamshid Ahangarani and Manijeh Hekmat has repeatedly pushed boundaries in her career as a young actress playing roles in a country where women are obliged to cover themselves up in public from head to toe.