Iran executed two men for blasphemy as the death penalty continues to rise.
After months of protests against the death in September of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year old Mahsa, after her arrest by Iran’s morality Police, the recent spate of executions includes members of ethnic minorities groups in Iran.
According to Iran Human Rights, the non-profit campaign group, 203 prisoners were executed so far in 2023.
The country is home to one of the world’s highest numbers of executions.
Yousef Moread and Sadrollah Zare were accused by authorities of participating in a Telegram channel that insulted Islam’s Prophet Mohammed and promoted atheism.
The Telegram channel was also used to accuse them of sharing images of the Koran being burned or of the act.
Officials in Iran confirmed that the men died after being hanged at Arak Prison, located in central Iran.
Blasphemy is punishable by death in Iran, but it’s rare to see executions.
The exact date of the last execution in Iran for blasphemy was not immediately known.
The Supreme Court of Iran changed Hashem Aghajari’s sentence from “blasphemy” to “insulting religion values”, and imposed a three-year jail term.
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“Medieval” executions are “intolerable”
Iran Human Rights condemned the executions, saying they revealed the “medieval” nature of Iran’s theocracy.
Mahmood Amir-Moghaddam is the leader of the Oslo-based group. He said in a press release: “The International Community must demonstrate with its response that executing people for expressing their opinion is not acceptable.”
The refusal of the international community in the face of Iran’s aggression is a green signal for all those who share the same views around the globe.
According to the US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), the men were arrested on May 20, 2020. They were accused of participating in a Telegram channel called Critique of Superstition and Religion.
The commission stated that both men were subjected to months of solitary confinement, and they could not communicate with their families.
Iran Human Rights said that Iran will execute at least 582 individuals in 2022. This is up from the 333 executed people in 2021.
Amnesty International’s latest report on executions places Iran as the second largest executioner in the world, behind only China where thousands of people are believed to die every year.