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Rights Group: Iran Arrests Actors Behind Defiant No-Headscarves Video

A screenshot from video posted on Instagram by Iranian actress and director Soheila Golestani shows her, front row-center, and colleagues challenging Iran's headscarf mandate for women.

Iranian authorities have arrested the two actors behind a viral video where a group of film and theater figures stand silently without headscarves in solidarity with the protest movement, a rights group said Wednesday.

Actress and director Soheila Golestani, who appeared without her headscarf in the video, and the male director Hamid Pourazari, who also appeared prominently, have both been arrested, the U.S.-based Human Rights Activists News Agency said.

It was not clear where they were being held, it added. Some reports suggest they had been detained as the World Cup football clash between Iran and the United States got underway late Tuesday but this could not be immediately confirmed.

In the video, Golestani, wearing black, walks into the shot without a hijab and turns around to reveal her face, looking directly into the camera.

Nine other women then join Golestani with the same gesture, as do five men.

The Iran Wire website said all those in the video were Iranian actors. It was not clear if they too risk arrest.

Prominent Iranian playwright Naghmeh Samini confirmed on her Instagram account that Golestani and Pourazari had been arrested.

She described the arrests as the "reaction of the some of the audience" to a "performance."

The death in September of Mahsa Amini, 22, who had been arrested by the notorious Tehran morality police, has triggered more than two months of protests that pose the biggest challenge to the clerical regime since the 1979 Islamic revolution.

During the protest movement, several Iranian actors have made taboo-breaking gestures of removing their headscarves, which are mandatory for women in the Islamic republic.

Earlier this month, Taraneh Alidoosti, one of Iran's best-known actors remaining in the country, posted an image of herself on social media without a headscarf.

Iran also arrested two prominent actors, Hengameh Ghaziani and Katayoun Riahi, who expressed solidarity with the protest movement and removed their headscarves in public in an apparent act of defiance.

Both have now been released on bail, reports said.

Iranian cinema figures were under pressure even before the start of the protest movement sparked by Amini's death.

Prize-winning directors Mohammad Rasoulof and Jafar Panahi remain in detention after their arrests earlier this year.