Iran's New Target: Britney Spears

State media brings up conservatorship after she expresses support for protesters
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 20, 2022 2:00 PM CDT
Iran's New Target: Britney Spears
Britney Spears and Sam Asghari arrive at the Los Angeles premiere of "Once Upon a Time in Hollywood" at the TCL Chinese Theatre Monday, July 22, 2019.   (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP, File)

As Iranian security forces attempt to crush the country's biggest protests in years, the state-controlled Islamic Republic News Agency is targeting the regime's celebrity critics overseas—especially Britney Spears. While numerous celebrities have expressed their support for protesters, Spears has apparently been singled out because of her complicated personal life and her marriage to Iranian-American Sam Asghari. "Me & my husband stand with the people of Iran fighting for freedom," Spears said Sunday in a tweet that has been liked more than 230,000 times. In a tweet two days later, the IRNA brought up Spears' past, saying she "was placed under her father’s conservatorship in 2008 due to her mental health problems," Deutsche Welle reports.

"That gave Britney’s father control over her finances and even her personal life aspects such as pregnancy, remarriage and visits to her teenage sons," the IRNA said. Protests have rocked Iran since last month, when Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old woman, died in the custody of the country's morality police after she was detained for not wearing a hijab. In its tweet about Spears, the IRNA used the hashtag #MahsaAmini. The news agency's social media accounts have been using the hashtag "to populate pro-protest online spaces with government narratives," Rolling Stone reports.

The IRNA has also pushed back against protest supporter Shakira with a meme claiming that she was ignoring police violence against women in the US and Saudi Arabia, Rolling Stone notes. Numerous other Western celebrities have expressed support for the Iranian protesters, including Justin Bieber, Olivia Colman, Bella Hadid, and Angelina Jolie. Asghari, who was born in Tehran and moved to the US with his family when he was 13, has more than 3 million followers on Instagram, where he has posted numerous times in support of the protests. Activists say there have been protests in more than 100 Iranian cities since Amini's death, with thousands of activists detained and more than 200 killed, the AP reports. (Read more Iran stories.)

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