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

ASEAN Ministers to Push for S. China Sea Agreements

According to documents obtained by VOA Khmer, ministers will stand up for 'freedom of navigation, unimpeded lawful maritime commerce, trade and over flight' More

Puerto Rico Defaults on $58M Debt Payment

Payment was due Saturday, default is first in country's 117 years as a United States possession More

Turkish Public Fears Jihadists More Than Kurds

Turkey facing twin threats of terrorism by Islamic State and PKK Kurdish separatists, says President Erdogan’s ruling AK Party 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.
Iraqi Yazidis Fear Death of Their Communityi
X
Sharon Behn
August 03, 2015 2:23 PM
A year ago on August 3, Islamic State militants stormed the homelands of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, killing hundreds of men and enslaving thousands of women. The scenes of desperate Yazidi families crowding on the top of Sinjar mountain without food or water spurred Kurdish fighters into action, an emergency airlift and the start of the U.S. airstrike campaign against the Islamic State Sunni extremists. VOA's Sharon Benh reports from northern Iraq.
Video

Video Iraqi Yazidis Fear Death of Their Community

A year ago on August 3, Islamic State militants stormed the homelands of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, killing hundreds of men and enslaving thousands of women. The scenes of desperate Yazidi families crowding on the top of Sinjar mountain without food or water spurred Kurdish fighters into action, an emergency airlift and the start of the U.S. airstrike campaign against the Islamic State Sunni extremists. VOA's Sharon Benh reports from northern Iraq.
Video

Video Bangkok Warned It Soon Could Be Submerged

Italy's Venice and America's New Orleans are not the only cities gradually submerging. The nearly ten million residents of the Bangkok urban area now must confront warnings the city could become uninhabitable in a few decades. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from the Thai capital.
Video

Video Inclusive Gym Gets People With Disabilities in Fitness Spirit

Individuals with special needs are 58 percent more likely to be obese than the general population. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, they also have an increased likelihood of anxiety, depression and social isolation. But a sports club outside Washington wants to make a difference in these people's lives. With Carol Pearson narrating, VOA's June Soh reports.
Video

Video Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missions

Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Special Olympics Show Competitors' Skill, Determination

Special Olympics competitions will wrap up Saturday in Los Angeles, and the closing ceremony for athletes with intellectual disabilities will be held Sunday night. In a week of competition, athletes have shown what they can do through skill and determination. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Civil Rights Leaders Struggled to Achieve Voting Rights Act

Fifty years ago, lawmakers approved, and U.S. President Lyndon Johnson signed, the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The measure outlawed racial discrimination in voting, giving millions of blacks in many parts of the southern United States federal enforcement of the right to vote. Correspondent Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights leaders who were on the front lines in the struggle for voting rights.
Video

Video Shooter’s Grill: Serving Food with a Touch of the Second Amendment

Shooter's Grill, a restaurant in Rifle, Colorado, attracts visitors from all over the world as well as local patrons. The reason? Waitresses openly carry loaded firearms as they serve food, and customers are welcome to carry them, too. VOA's Enming Liu and Lin Yang paid a visit to Shooter's Grill, and heard different opinions about this unique establishment.
Video

Video Despite Controversy, Business Owner Continues Sale of Confederate Flags

At Cooter’s, a store in rural Sperryville, Virginia, about 120 kilometers west of Washington, D.C., Confederate flags are flying off the shelves. The red, white and blue battle flag, with 13 white stars representing the Confederate states, was carried by southern forces during the U.S. Civil War in the 1860s. The South had seceded from the Union over several key issues of disagreement, including slavery. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

VOA Blogs