Iran executes 2 in rare blasphemy case, death sentence increased


DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) – Iran hanged two men convicted of blasphemy on Monday, officials said, in a rare death penalty for the crime as the execution escalated after months of unrest in the Islamic republic. Is.

Iran remains one of the world’s top executioners, having executed at least 203 prisoners since the beginning of this year alone, according to the Oslo-based group Iran Human Rights. But executions for blasphemy are rare, as in previous cases the authorities had reduced the sentence.

The two men who were executed, Yousef Mehrad and Sadrola Fazeli Zare, died in Arak Prison in central Iran. According to the US Commission on International Religious Freedom, he was arrested in May 2020 for his involvement in a channel called “Criticism of Superstition and Religion” on the Telegram messaging app. The commission noted that both men faced months of solitary confinement and could not contact their families.

Iran’s judiciary’s Mizan news agency confirmed the executions, describing the two men as having insulted Islam’s prophet Muhammad and promoting atheism. Mizan also accused them of burning the Quran, the holy book of Islam, although it was not clear whether the men allegedly did so or whether such pictures were shared in the Telegram channel.

Mahmoud Amiri-Moghaddam, who heads Iran for Human Rights, condemned the executions as highlighting the “medieval nature” of Iran’s democracy.

“The international community must show by its response that the death penalty for expressing an opinion is intolerable,” he said in a statement. “The international community’s refusal to react decisively is a green light to the Iranian government and all their like-minded people around the world.”

It was not immediately clear when Iran conducted its last execution for blasphemy. Other countries in the Middle East, such as Saudi Arabia, also allow the death penalty for blasphemy.

The streak of executions, including of members of ethnic minority groups, in Iran comes as months of protests over the death in September of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini following her arrest by the country’s morality police. already, At least four people have been executed for alleged crimes stemming from the demonstrations, The protests, which reportedly saw more than 500 people killed and 19,000 others arrested, marked one of the biggest challenges to Iran’s democracy since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

In 2022, Iran will execute at least 582 people, compared to 333 in 2021, according to Iran Human Rights. Amnesty International’s most recent report on capital punishment ranks Iran as the world’s second largest executioner, behind only China, where thousands of people are believed to be executed a year.


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