News / Middle East

Iran Demonstrators Facing Death Sentence

Iran Demonstrators Facing Death Sentence
Iran Demonstrators Facing Death Sentence

Iran will put 16 opposition demonstrators on trial, Monday, and several are to be charged with "offending God and his prophet."  Sixty journalists and intellectuals are expressing outrage over use of the charge of being "mohareb", which carries the death penalty. 

The Iranian judiciary will put 16 opposition protesters on trial, Monday, in connection with demonstrations last month on the holy day of Ashoura.  Press reports and recent statements by Iranian prosecutors indicate several will be charged with the offense of "mohareb" or "making war against God and his prophet."  Conviction on such a charge carries the death penalty.

In an open letter to the Iranian judiciary, a group of 60 Iranian journalists and intellectuals, most of whom live abroad, are demanding a stop to using the religiously-based charge of "mohareb" against opposition protesters.  They say in their letter, that "if protesting is making war against God, then we are all warriors."

Some pro-government supporters are also unhappy about the use of the charge against opposition protesters.  In a recent interview with Iranian state TV, Javad Etaat, argues the government is contravening the principles of Islam by using an iron fist against protesters. He points out the first Imam of Shi'ite muslims, Imam Ali, said 'keep people that criticize you close to yourselves, because even if their words are bitter, you will benefit from them in the end."

Former Iranian president Abolhassan Bani Sadr, who now lives in exile in Paris, argues the use of the term "mohareb" by the Iranian government is excessive. He says the regime is not respecting its own laws, because the term "enemy of God" means someone who takes up arms against a just regime, and people did not take up arms against the regime, they were merely demonstrating to protest against dictatorship, a right which the law of the Islamic Republic gives them.  Secondly, he argues, in the case of an unjust regime, the Koran says a muslim has not only the right, but the obligation to revolt against it.  Thirdly, he adds, it was the government that fired on the people during Ashoura, when they were exercising their legitimate right to demonstrate. 

Scott Lucas of the University of Birmingham in Britain, who is behind the popular Iran blog "Enduring America," says government tactics such as charging protesters with being "enemies of God" are starting to cause a rift within the government itself. "If you look at what Dr. Etaat said during that extraordinary (Iranian TV) interview this week, this is a very telling point, which he said: when you use the term "velvet revolution" and the terms "enemy of God," what you are pointing to is a revolution against an unjust system.  You are highlighting how unjust the system is by using the terms.  So, "mohareb," rather than unifying people behind the Islamic Republic just risks causing more splits and rifts, and rifts within the regime.  There is some really serious opposition within the regime, which is saying "look, back off, stop doing this," and one reason is because they are using this term "mohareb," he says.

Lucas says the judiciary appears to be downplaying the latest trials, unlike the "show trials of opposition activists during the summer."

You May Like

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Bosnian Massacre Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs UN countermeasure More

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountaini
X
July 02, 2015 4:10 AM
Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs