Death Of Iranian Chef Mehrshad Shahidi At Hands Of Police Sparks Outrage

Mehrshad Shahidi was something of a social media celebrity in his home city of Arak, the capital of Iran's Markazi province, located approximately 180 miles away from the Iranian capital of Tehran. Just 19, Shahidi "was a talented young chef at Boote Restaurant," according to historian and author Dr. Nina Ansary (via Twitter). He also became known for artistic cooking videos that he shared via Instagram, amassing almost 25,000 followers, per The Telegraph. A day before his 20th birthday, he would be dead — allegedly after being beaten by the intelligence unit of the country's Revolutionary Guard. While the Instagram page for Boote Restaurant still stands, Shahidi's own page appears to have been taken down or deactivated.

Iran International says Shahidi was arrested on October 25, after taking part in anti-government protests. Provincial officials have said Shahidi's body showed "no signs of fractures in the arms, legs, skull, or any brain injury," but his family said otherwise. "Our son lost his life as a result of receiving baton blows to his head after his arrest, but we have been under pressure by the regime to say that he has died of a heart attack," alleged one of Shahidi's relatives (via The Telegraph).

Iran has been gripped by unrest

Shahidi's funeral, which took place on Sunday, became the scene of yet more anti-government protests, which began more than a month ago after the death of a 22-year-old woman named Mahsa Amini. "Morality police" took her into custody for allegedly violating the country's dress code, per CNN. Now it appears the death of the 19-year-old chef, has given Iran's people even more reason to be angry.

One Iranian affairs commentator, Dr. Reza Taghizadeh, told The Telegraph that the death of the popular Shahidi, who also worked as head chef at the University of Arak, had triggered "second and even greater wave of national protests against the regime in the same way Mahsa Amini's death did a month ago." Clips from one of Shahidi's cooking videos are now being shared widely on Twitter. Iranian American writer and historian Nina Ansary introduced Shahidi to her followers, saying that "he was ruthlessly killed by security forces in Iran. Tomorrow would have been his 20th birthday." She added, "We will never forget. We will never forgive."