France Calls on Iran to Release Filmmaker Jafar Panahi

France on Friday called on Iran to allow peaceful protests, a day after police clashed with demonstrators in Tehran, and to release filmmaker Jafar Panahi and others arrested this week.

"We call on Iranian authorities to respect the fundamental right to hold peaceful protests," said foreign ministry spokesman Frederic Desagneaux.

"This is a universal value and we hope that the people arrested during the demonstrations, in particular filmmaker Jafar Panahi, will be released."

AFP is reporting that prominent Iranian director Jafar Panahi (“Offside”, “The Circle”) was arrested today, along with his wife and daughter, at a ceremony where mourners gathered to commemorate slain election protesters. AFP notes that “Panahi is a vocal critic of Iran hardliners and his movies have been banned for a decade from domestic cinemas despite their international success.” Several other mourners were also arrested by Iranian riot police. They were marking the 40th day since the death of Neda Agha-Soltan, a woman “who came to symbolise the protest movement against the re-election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.”