Two men executed for blasphemy in Iran | world news
Two men have been hanged in Iran after being convicted of blasphemy.
Both men died after months of solitary confinement and without contact with their families in Arak prison in central Iran, according to the US Commission on International Religious Freedom.
The rare death sentence for the crime has been sanctioned for the couple, who have been dubbed Yousef Mehrad and Sadrollah Fazeli Zare.
Iran remains one of the world’s top executioners as the number of people succumbing to the death penalty across the country continues to rise after months of unrest.
At least 203 prisoners have been executed before a court system run by President Ebrahim Raisi since the beginning of this year alone, according to Oslo-based group Iran Human Rights.
However, executions for blasphemy remain rare as sentences have been reduced in previous cases.
It was reported that the men were arrested in May 2020 after being accused of involvement in a Telegram channel called Critique of Superstition and Religion.
The Mizan news agency confirmed the executions and described how the two men allegedly insulted the Islamic prophet Mohammed and promoted atheism.
Mizan also accused them of burning a Koran, Islam’s holy book, although it’s not clear if that was an allegation or if they shared pictures of it on Telegram.
Iranian human rights leader Mahmood Amiry-Moghaddam condemned the executions, saying they expose the “medieval nature” of Iran’s theocracy.
He said: “The response from the international community must show that executions for expression of opinion are intolerable.
“The international community’s refusal to react decisively is a green light for the Iranian government and all its like-minded people around the world.”
It is not clear when Iran carried out its last execution for blasphemy offenses.
Other countries in the Middle East, such as Saudi Arabia, also allow the use of death sentences for blasphemy.
Iran executed at least 582 people in 2022, up from 333 people in 2021, according to Iran Human Rights.
Amnesty International’s latest report shows that Iran carries out the second highest number of executions after China, where thousands are believed to be executed each year.
The string of executions, including those of Iran’s ethnic minorities, comes after months of protests over the death of Mahsa Amini in September last year.
The 22-year-old died after being arrested by the country’s vice squad for allegedly violating a mandatory hijab law by wearing it “improperly”.
It sparked large protests that killed more than 500 people and arrested 19,000 others in one of the biggest challenges facing Iran’s theocracy since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.
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