Iranian Model’s Cannes Outfit Shines Light on Iran’s Execution Crisis: When Fashion Becomes a Protest

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The red carpet of the Cannes Film Festival has become a platform for glamorous costumes and political statements. Iranian model Mahlagha Jaberi made a statement on the Cannes red carpet with a noose-styled dress. Jaberi’s dress carried the message ‘Stop Executions’ to raise awareness about executions in Iran.

The noose collar on Jaberi’s dress symbolized executions by hanging. The outspoken dress is created by a LA based designer Jila Saberi. Jila too has her roots in Tehran, Iran and moved to the US after pursuing her career there for a while. The pictures of Jaberi’s outfit went viral on social media, drawing attention to the situation in Iran. Jaberi’s bold move received appreciation on Twitter.

A woman recently staged a protest on the Cannes red carpet, pouring fake blood on herself to bring attention to the situation in Ukraine. Advisor to Ukrainian Minister of Internal Affairs, Anton Gerashchenko,  shared his opinion on Twitter, calling Mahlagha “Another brave women”.

Iran is known for executing people after opaque trials on charges ranging from terrorism to blasphemy. Over 200 were executed in Iran just this year, as per United Nations reports. Human rights organizations have expressed criticism of grave violations of basic human rights in Iran. The executions in Iran gained renewed attention after the death of Mahsa Amini in the custody of the morality police.

According to Iran Human Rights, 295 people have been executed in Iran this year. Three protesters held for protesting after Mahsa Amini’s death were executed earlier this month. Mahlagha Jaberi wore the noose-styled dress to bring media attention to the wrongful executions in Iran. Political statements are not allowed at the Cannes Film Festival, so Jaberi couldn’t show the back of her dress.

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The meaning behind the ‘noose’ was well understood despite the restrictions. The dress was designed by Jila Saber, who aimed to fight against the heinous crime of executions. Mahlagha Jaberi is a well-known Iranian-American model. Jaberi left Iran in 2009 and currently resides in Los Angeles, California.

She continues to persue her hobbies like horse riding and yoga, and she has studied physics, mathematics, and business. Jaberi’s Instagram bio features the slogan used in Iranian protests: “Women. Life. Freedom.” Mahlagha Jaberi joins other prominent Iranians in making statements against the Iranian regime.

Mahsa Amini’s death triggered intense nationwide protests in Iran. The hijab rule was enforced in Iran after the Islamic Revolution of 1979. Sara Khadem, an Iranian chess player, faced threats after competing without a hijab. Elnaz Rekabi, an Iranian climber, competed without a hijab and faced consequences upon her return. An Iranian basketball team shared a photo without hijab, emphasizing the slogans of the ongoing protests. Niloufar Mardani, an Iranian skater, received condemnation from the Iranian government for not wearing a hijab.

Jaberi’s red carpet outfit received both praise and outrage.

Iranian journalist Yashar Ali criticized Jaberi for her video, considering it unhelpful. Catherine Deneuve paid tribute to the victims of the Russia-Ukraine war at the Cannes opening ceremony. The Islamic Republic of Iran has the second highest rate of executions, after China.

Iranian authorities have escalated executions to instill fear following months of protests. Amnesty International expressed grave concern about unjust convictions and risk of execution for several individuals. Many individuals subjected to executions faced violations of fair trial rights and inhumane treatment.

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