Iran hanged on Monday to two men charged with blasphemyaccording to the authorities, in a unusual application of the death penalty for that crime and within an increase in executions in the Islamic republic after months of protests.
The Iranian regime continues to be one of the countries that executes the most prisoners, with at least 203 dead so far this year, according to the Oslo-based group Human Rights in Iran. But executions for blasphemy remain rare, and sentences have been reduced in previous cases.
The two executed men Yousef Mehrad and Sadrollah Fazeli Zaredied in the Arak Prison, in central Iran. They were arrested in May 2020 and accused of participating in a Telegram messaging app channel called “Criticism of superstition and religion,” according to the United States International Commission on Religious Freedom. Both they suffered solitary confinement for months and were unable to contact their familiesaccording to the commission.
The news agency of the Iranian judiciary Mizan confirmed the executions and said the two men had insulted the Prophet Muhammad and promoted atheism. Mizan He also accused them of burning a Koran, Islam’s holy book, although it was not clear if the men were accused of burning the book itself or for posting footage of that act on the Telegram channel.
Mahmood Amiry-Moghaddam, who heads Human Rights in Iran, lamented the executions and said that they exposed the “medieval nature” of the Iranian theocracy.
“The international community must show by its reaction that executions for expressing an opinion are intolerable,” he said in a statement. “The lack of reaction from the international community is a green light for the Iranian government and like-minded people around the world.”.
It was not initially clear when the last execution for blasphemy in Iran had taken place. Other countries in the Middle East, such as Saudi Arabia, also contemplate death sentences for this crime.
The recent spate of executions, which have included members of Iran’s ethnic minorities, comes after months of protests subsided over the September death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, who had been detained by Iran police. country morale. At least four people accused of alleged crimes during the demonstrations have been executed so far.
The protests, in which some 500 people were reportedly killed and another 19,000 detained, were one of the biggest challenges to Iran’s theocracy since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.
In 2022, Iran executed at least 582 people, up from 333 in 2021, according to Human Rights in Iran. The most recent report by Amnesty International pointed to Iran as the country that executes the second most inmates, behind only China, where it is believed that thousands of people die each year.
(With information from AP)
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