An animal rights activist has been arrested in Iran.
Friends and relatives of Ali Tabarzadi believe his arrest is related to a call he and others had made for a protest on December 5 in support of animal rights and against the killing of stray dogs and cats.
Authorities have not provided a reason for Tabarzadi’s arrest.
Tabarzadi was detained at his home in the Iranian capital on December 4, his family told RFE/RL.
Tabarzadi’s brother, Hossein Tabarzadi, said about eight security agents searched their house and took away computers and some other personal items.
He said the agents had said that Tabarzadi will be transferred to Tehran’s Evin prison.
Before being taken away, Tabarzadi updated his Facebook page by writing, “The police came to take me away.”
On his Facebook page, Tabarzadi, the son of political prisoner Heshamotollah Tabarzadi, had criticized a draft bill proposed by a group of Iranian lawmakers that called for 74 lashes and fines for Iranians walking their dogs in public.
The call for the December 5 gathering in support of animal rights was made on a Facebook page titled “My Protest Movement and 74 Lashes” where Iranian dog lovers had been posting pictures of their pets and writing comments against the mistreatment of animals.
Dog ownership has been denounced by Iranian hard-liners who say dogs are considered to be dirty animals according to Islamic teachings. Despite the opposition, dog ownership continues to increase in major cities.
The profile picture of the Facebook page is a photo of Ali Tabarzadi smiling while holding a big dog.
Tabarzadi’s brother said the young man had been actively promoting animal rights.
“In a country where the rights of people are not being taken seriously and are violated, it’s not [surprising] that defending the rights of cats and dogs, that are considered unclean, will face one with harsh [police] action,” he said in an interview with RFE/RL’s Radio Farda.
With additional reporting by Baktash Khamsehpour of RFE/RL's Radio Farda