Iranian ‘Tehran’ actor says he got death threats after criticizing Israeli forces

Sia Alipour, an Iranian actor in the hit Israeli TV show “Tehran,” responded on Wednesday to an outcry sparked when he posted an Instagram story criticizing Israeli forces’ actions during the funeral of slain Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh.

Alipour, who plays the character Vahid Nemati in the show’s second season, wrote on Instagram that after the post, he received a lot of “death threats, [very] very quickly.”

“Rejecting a country’s government/military/oppressive regime does not mean you hate all the citizens of that country, at all,” Alipour wrote. “I was born in Iran and I’m the first to yell at them.”

Hours earlier, the actor had posted a photo from the May 13 funeral of Al Jazeera reporter Abu Akleh, during which Israeli forces were seen beating funeral participants. Alipour wrote: “Also fuck these Israeli forces, who can do something so heinous with no repercussions.”

Alipour also posted an Instagram story criticizing the Iranian government Wednesday.

Alipour’s post about the funeral was criticized by some Israelis on social media and in the press.

In response to his comments on the Abu Akleh funeral, one of the show’s executive producers, Shula Spiegel, told The Times of Israel that the show worked with the Iranian actors with “full cooperation and mutual respect.”

“You can imagine what it is like for an Iranian actor to play in an Israeli series,” Spiegel. “And in the case of Sia Alipour, he also condemned the Iranian government at the same time. It’s a good thing that [we] are not in Iran.”

Kan declined to respond to a request for comment on Alipour’s statement.

The London-based actor is originally from Ahvaz, in the Khuzestan province in southwest Iran, and is among several Iranian actors in the award-winning series — largely filmed in Greece — that is noted for its mix of actors from many backgrounds.

“Tehran” has received critical acclaim both in Israel and around the world, and won Best Drama Series last year at the 2021 International Emmy Awards.

The show follows Tamar Rabinyan, a Mossad agent born in Iran and raised in Israel, who is sent back undercover to the Iranian capital to help disable a nuclear reactor.

For its second season, the Israeli thriller added Oscar-winning actress Glenn Close alongside the show’s main star, Israeli actress Niv Sultan, who plays Rabinyan.

Season 2 premiered earlier this month on Kan, Israel’s public broadcaster and globally on Apple TV+

Amy Spiro contributed to this report.

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