Iran hangs two men for blasphemy
Iran hangs two men for blasphemy as executions rise amid unrest
Iran has hanged two men convicted of blasphemy, according to authorities, carrying out rare death sentences for the crime as the number of executions soars across the Islamic Republic after months of unrest.
— خبرگزاری میزان (@MizanNewsAgency) May 8, 2023
Iran has executed two people who had been sentenced to death for blasphemy, the judiciary’s news website Mizan reported on Monday, drawing an angry reaction from human rights group Amnesty International.
The country remains one of the world’s top executioners, having put to death at least 203 prisoners so far this year, according to the Oslo-based group Iran Human Rights. But executions for blasphemy remain rare, as in previous cases the sentences have been reduced by authorities.
The pair executed, Yousef Mehrdad and Sadrollah Fazeli Zare, died at Arak prison in central Iran. They had been arrested in May 2020, accused of being involved in a channel on the Telegram message app called Critique of Superstition and Religion, according to the US Commission on International Religious Freedom. Both men spent months in solitary confinement and could not contact their families, the commission said.
Yousef Mehrdad and Sadrollah Fazeli Zare were executed for crimes including blasphemy, insulting the religion of Islam, the prophet and other sanctities, Mizan reported.
The website reported that the two were running dozens of online anti-religion platforms dedicated to the hatred of Islam, the promotion of atheism and insults to sanctities.
Amnesty International condemned the executions on its Twitter page for Iran.
“Today’s execution of Yousef Mehrdad and Sadrollah Fazeli Zare for ‘apostasy’ marks a shocking new low for Iran’s authorities & only furthers Iran’s pariah status,” it wrote.
“They were hanged solely for social media posts in a grotesque assault on the rights to life and freedom of religion.”
U.N. experts have called on majority Shi’ite Muslim Iran to stop the persecution and harassment of religious minorities pointing to an Iranian policy of targeting dissenting beliefs or religious practices, including Christian converts and atheist.