Iranian dancer, who left base after facing threats, believes protests will end Tehran's 'cruelty'

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Iranian dancer, who left base after facing threats, believes protests will end Tehran's 'cruelty'
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Turkey-based Iranian dancer Mikaeil Alizadeh, who left her country in 2015 after receiving threats fearing she would be jailed for being a dancer, now believes the anti-government protests will lead to the end of Tehran’s ‘cruelty’.

New Delhi,UPDATED: Oct 19, 2022 15:08 IST

Mikaeil Alizadeh, also known by her stage name Leo, an Iranian belly dancer living in Turkey, performs at a restaurant in Turkey’s Istanbul. (Photo: Reuters)

By India Today Web Desk: Turkey-based Iranian dancer Mikaeil Alizadeh, who left her country in 2015 after receiving threats for being gender-fluid and fearing she would be jailed for being a dancer, now believes that the anti-government protests will lead to the end of Tehran’s ‘cruelty’.

Alizadeh, 33, who goes by the stage name Leo, is one of the hundreds of Iranians who have attended protests in Turkey that erupted after the death of a 22-year-old Kurdish-Iranian woman while in the custody of Iran’s morality police last month. Mahsa Amini was detained for violating the Islamic nation’s conservative dress code.

Attending a rally in Istanbul marking one month since Amini’s death, Alizadeh said protesters in Iran were encouraged by support from abroad.

ALSO READ | Anti-hijab protests rock Iran over Mahsa Amini’s death in custody: What we know so far

“The people in Iran have become very strong…thanks to our protests, the support from the world,” she said among a crowd of around 100 people on a street opposite the Iranian consulate.

“We are going to win this time. This government is cruel, this government is a killer. Cruelty is not sustainable. Its end has come,” Alizadeh said.

ALSO READ | Security forces clash with protestors, over 75 killed as anti-hijab protests intensify in Iran

The unrest has become one of the boldest challenges to Iran’s clerical rulers since the 1979 revolution, with protesters calling for the downfall of the Islamic Republic. However, analysts say the chances of a political change in Iran remain slim anytime soon.

Alizadeh said she had to give dance lessons and perform in secret in Iran. She finally moved to Turkey in 2015 after a neighbour called the police and made prostitution accusations over the dance classes.

“I felt the danger in my heart after that day. I had to stop dancing if I lived in Iran or would have had to spend the rest of my life in prison,” she told Reuters.



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