Actors Storm Iran Mall Dressed as ISIS Fighters Shouting 'Allahu Akbar'

Actors dressed as ISIS terrorists stormed a Tehran mall shouting "Allahu Akbar," scaring the life out of mall-goers Monday night.

The group arrived at Kourosh Mall and Cineplex on horses to promote Damascus Time, a Farsi-language film about the Islamic republic tackling terrorism in Iraq and Syria.

A video posted on social media shows the actors clad in the garb that the Islamists would normally wear including insignia, going up the escalator, holding up what appears to be weapons and shouting in Arabic “God is Great,” Iran Front Page  reported.

The actor with a red beard winks at the camera while some appear to be laughing in the background. Shoppers stood by, filming proceedings with their smartphones—but some screams can be heard.

However, thousands posted on social media that the stunt was in bad taste, coming at a time of heightened awareness around the threat posed by ISIS. One person is heard shouting at the actors “what if a woman or child is shocked”.

Ershad Alijani, an Iranian journalist for France 24, tweeted: “Isn't it the most stupid way of 'advertisement' for a movie? Disguising people like ISIS marching with a horse in a mall to encourage people to watch.” Journalist Azadeh Moaveni tweeted from the U.K: "Now Iran has its own war on terror, complete with live ISIS film trailers at the mall. Iranian mall action, always edgy, now also bananas." 

The incident prompted the film’s director, Ebrahim Hatamikia, to issue a statement apologizing for the stunt that he had no advance warning of.

“I thought a person with a red beard (like ISIS militants) is going to stand outside the mall and let the fans take selfies with him. I didn’t know there would be horses, screams, and crowds inside the mall,” he said, according to Iran Front Page.

Screenshot (17) Kourosh Mall and Cineplex in Tehran. Google Maps

“The show was definitely beneath the dignity of my film,” he added.

Damascus Time was released in March this year and within a month it had earned more than $1 million at the box office. It stars renowned local actors Hadi Hejazifar and Babak Hamidian, as well as cast from Iraq and Syria.

Its plot involves Palmyra in eastern Syria falling to ISIS, who have surrounded the airport in a nearby city where the wounded and the last defenders of the airport await evacuation. The film has been praised by Iran's Quds force commander, Qasem Soleimani and the country's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad. 

Nevertheless, Le Monde described the film—commissioned in 2011 by the country's national media organization that was set up in 2011—as a blockbuster with “propaganda overtones” that serves as part of a wave of films, documentaries and television series “advocating the virtues of Tehran’s policies, including its involvement in Syria and Iraq.”

In June 2017, ISIS claimed responsibility for two terrorist attacks in Iran that killed 12 people and injured 46. Militants assaulted the parliament building and the tomb of the republic's revolutionary founder, The New York Times reported at the time.