News / Middle East

Iran Demonstrators Facing Death Sentence

Iran Demonstrators Facing Death Sentence
Iran Demonstrators Facing Death Sentence
TEXT SIZE - +

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

Multimedia Anti-Keystone XL Protests Continue

Demonstrators are worried about pipeline's effect on climate change, their traditional way of life, health and safety More

Thailand's Political Power Struggle Continues

Court gave Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra until May 2 to prepare her defense over abuse of power charges but uncertainty remains over election timing More

Malaysia Plane Search Tests Limits of Ocean Mapping Technology

Expert tells VOA existing equipment’s maximum operating depth is around 6 kilometers as operation continues on ocean bed for any trace of MH370 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.
Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Messagei
X
Penelope Poulou
April 22, 2014 5:53 PM
Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Message

Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pro-Russian Separatists Plan 'Federalization Referendum' in Eastern Ukraine

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine say they plan to move forward next month with a referendum vote for greater autonomy, despite the Geneva agreement reached with Russia, the U.S. and Ukraine to end the political conflict. VOA's Brian Padden reports from the city of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video International Students Learn Film Production in World's Movie Capital

Hollywood - which is part of Los Angeles - is the movie capital of the world, and many aspiring filmmakers go there in hopes of breaking into the movie business. Mike O'Sullivan reports that regional universities are also a magnet for students who hope to become producers or directors.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid