The recent slaying of renowned film director Dariush Mehrjui and his wife has caused shock and outrage among Iranians, with many of them drawing parallels with political assassinations that have rocked the country over the past decades.
The 83-year-old Mehrjui and Vahideh Mohammadifar were stabbed to death over the weekend in their home in Karaj, near Tehran. Anti-establishment slogans such as “Women, Life, Freedom” and “Neither Gaza nor Lebanon. My life for Iran” were chanted at their funeral on October 18.
Mehrjui is known as cofounder of Iran’s film new wave in the 1970s that mainly focused on realism.
Zahara Rahnavard, who has been under house arrest since 2010 alongside her husband, prominent opposition figure Mir Hossein Mousavi, said in a letter that the stabbing of Mehrjui and Mohammadifar “serves as a grim reminder of the brutal murder of Dariush and Parvaneh Forouhar."
The 70-year-old Dariush Forouhar and his wife, both outspoken critics of Iran's religious leadership, were stabbed to death in their home in southern Tehran in November 1998. The couple ran a small secular opposition party.
"It also evokes memories of the tragic suicides and mysterious deaths that have befallen artists and other activists," Rahnavard also said.
« Femme, Vie, Liberté » scandent la foule participant aux funérailles du réalisateur Dariush Mehrjui et de sa femme Vahideh, poignardés à mort. pic.twitter.com/7rXLqKenYq— lettres de Teheran (@LettresTeheran) October 18, 2023
Jailed human rights advocate Nasrin Sotoudeh commented on the killing of Mehrjui and Mohammadifar in a Facebook post, questioning the nature of the crime.
"Regardless of whether this is a politically motivated murder, it underscores our determination to pursue a referendum to establish a functioning government. Even in the most optimistic scenario, it is clear that the current government cannot ensure public security," she wrote.
Speaking to the BBC’s Persian service, firm director Mani Haghighi noted that "just 25 years have passed since the 1988 series of political murders, and the Iranian people earnestly hope that such heinous crimes will never occur again."
"The minimum expectation is a swift identification of the perpetrators of this crime," Haghighi said.
On October 15, the BBC’s Persian service aired excerpts of a documentary about Mehrjui, in which he says he is tired of “four decades of deceit,” referring to the 44 years of Islamic rule in Iran.
In another scene, the film maker removes his wife’s headscarf and whispers: "The headscarf is done, finished, come with me…oh, you have such beautiful hair…my beauty."