On May 8, 2023, Iranian authorities said that the country executed two people on the grounds of blasphemy.
According to the Oslo-based organisation Iran Human Rights, Iran remains one of the largest executioners, having killed 203 people since 2023.
According to the US Commission on International Religious Freedom, the two men have been identified as Yousef Mehrad and Sadrollah Fazeli Zare. Both were prisoners in the Arak Prison of Central Iran. They were arrested in May 2020.
They were accused of being involved in a channel on the Telegram message app named “Critique of Superstition and Religion.” The duo faced months of solitary confinement and could not contact their respective families.
The Mizan, a primary news agency of Iran’s Judiciary, confirmed the executions and accused the two men of insulting Prophet Mohammed and promoting atheism. The news agency said they were also held for allegedly burning the Quran, the Islamic Holy Book. However, it was unclear whether the two were involved in burning the scripture or whether such imagery was displayed on the Telegram channel.
Mahmood Amiry Moghaddam, the leader of Iran Human Rights, termed the executions as exposing the “medieval nature” of the Iranian theocracy.
He said, “The international community must show with its reaction that executions for expressing an opinion are intolerable.” “The refusal of the international community in reacting decisively is a green light for the Iranian government and all similar like-minded people around the world.”
It is unclear if Iran carried out its latest execution regarding blasphemy. Apart from Iran, other nations in the Middle East such as Saudi Arabia execute offenders on charges of blasphemy.
The streak of executions, including the minorities in Iran, comes after the monthslong protests and demonstrations post the death of the 22-year-old Mahsa Amini by the “Gasht-e-Ershad” have cooled to a certain level.
At least four people charged with the crimes from the protests have been executed. The protests saw 500 and 19,000 people arrested, marking one of the biggest and most formidable challenges to theocratic Iran since the Iranian Revolution of 1979.
According to Iran Human Rights, in 2022, Iran executed at least 582 people, up from 333 people in 2021. The most recent reports from Amnesty International on executions put Iran as the world’s second-largest executioner. The People’s Republic of China (PRC) holds the first position, where over 1000 people are killed annually