Accessibility links

Breaking News

Iran Executes Two Men for Blasphemy

This is a locator map for Iran with its capital, Tehran
This is a locator map for Iran with its capital, Tehran

Iran's judiciary announced the executions Monday of two men who were sentenced to death for blasphemy.

The judiciary's Mizan news site identified them as Yousef Mehrad and Sadrollah Fazeli Zare.

The report said their crimes included insulting Islam and the Prophet Muhammad, and that they used online platforms to spread hatred of Islam and promote atheism.

Mahmoud Amiry-Moghaddam, who leads the Norway-based group, Iran Human Rights, said in a statement, "the authorities have once again demonstrated their medieval nature by killing two people for expressing their opinion." He called on the international community to respond decisively and immediately.

A group of U.N. experts last year highlighted concerns about Iran's criminalization of blasphemy and called on the Iranian government to "take meaningful steps to ensure the right to freedom of religion or belief and freedom of opinion and expression without discrimination."


Iran Executes Swedish Iranian Dissident

Human rights groups reported that Mehrad and Zare were transferred earlier this year to solitary confinement.

The two were part of a group of seven people who had been arrested in 2020 for maintaining a telegram channel called "Criticism of Superstition and Religion," according to HRANA, the Human Rights Activists news agency. The rights group reported that the other defendants were released on bail, while Mehrad and Zare were sentenced to death.

Iran's Supreme Court upheld their death sentence in July 2021.

Death sentences in Iran have been on the rise with more than 200 prisoners being put to death since the start of this year, according to Iran Human Rights.

A German-Iranian political dissident, Jamshid Sharmahd, is also facing a death sentence, following a trial that Amnesty International last month called "grossly unfair."

The European Union's top diplomat, Josep Borrell, said he spoke about Sharmahd on Monday with Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian and "asked Iran not to execute" him.

In an interview with VOA's Persian service, Gazelle Sharmahd, the daughter of Sharmahd, said, "We don't have any contact with my father, and we must follow the latest news."

Some information for this story came from Reuters and The Associated Press.