Teenage chef dubbed ‘Jamie Oliver of Iran’ dies in police custody after arrest at hijab protests

Hundreds gathered for the funeral of the teenage chef Mehrshad Shahidi

Maryam Zakir-Hussain
Monday 31 October 2022 20:39 GMT
Iran regime enforcer fires weapon amid protests at University of North Tehran

Iran’s Revolutionary Guard has been accused of killing a young chef, dubbed the country’s Jamie Oliver, while in custody.

Mehrshad Shahidi died in the city of Arak on 25 October, the day before his twentieth birthday.

A family member told Iran International TV he died from baton blows to the head, after he was arrested during a demonstration, claiming that they were pressured by authorities to say he suffered a heart attack instead.

Mehrshad Shahidi was just 19 years-old when he died
Mehrshad Shahidi was just 19 years-old when he died (Screengrab)

The 19 year-old is the latest in a series of young people to have died as protests against the Iran regime continue.

The clashes follow the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, who was allegedly beaten to death by Iranian security forces for rebelling against the regime’s strict hijab-wearing rules.

Iranian authorities have denied any responsibilty for Mr Shahidi’s death and have said they will announce the cause of his death at a later time.

A large crowd attended the 19-year-old’s funeral, with footage showing Araki protestors fighting back against security forces who reportedly fired tear gas at the crowd.

The attendees chanted: “Everyone who is killed will be supported by thousands more.”

Chief Justice of the province Abdolmehdi Mousavi said three days after Mr Shahidi died that “there are no signs of fractures in the arms, legs, skull, or any brain injury”.

The deputy governor of the province insisted that Mr Shahidi was not shot by security forces.

Sharing a video of his cookery, Dr Nina Ansary of the non-profit World Affairs Councils of America tweeted: “This is Mehrshad Shahidi. He 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.”

A portrait of Mahsa Amini is held during a rally calling for regime change in Iran
A portrait of Mahsa Amini is held during a rally calling for regime change in Iran (Copyright 2022 the Associated Press. All Rights Reserved)

Meanwhile, Hengaw, a human-rights group, said security officers shot dead at least three protesters in the city of Mahabad near Iran’s western border with Iraq on Thursday night.

Ravina Shamdasani, spokesperson of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, said: “We’ve seen a lot of ill-treatment...but also harassment of the families of protesters.”

She added that in some cases, authorities were withholding the bodies of dead protesters from families or only releasing them on condition that they do not hold a funeral or speak to the media.

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