Many in the West talk of the “moderation” of #Iran’s regime. Foreign Minister Mohamed #Zarif flies around the world claiming that Iran is committed to peace, justice and #HumanRights. That would come as #news to the thousands of political prisoners languishing in Iranian jail for nothing more than advocating freedom and #democracy.
Soheil Arabi is one of those activists whose Facebook posts landed him on death row
Soheil was first arrested and sentenced to death in November 2013 on the charge of “insulting the Prophet” (sabb-e-nabi). Article 262 of the Islamic Penal Code of Iran explains
Anyone who swears at or commits qazf [false accusation of sexual offenses] against the Great Prophet [of Islam] (peace be upon him) or any of the Great Prophets, shall be considered as sāb ul-nabi [a person who swears at the Prophet], and shall be sentenced to the death penalty.
In Iran, there is no freedom of speech. Broadcasting is limited to one corporation, Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB), whose head is appointed by the Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei. Iranian newspapers are censored by the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance.
The last refuge for Iranian activists is Facebook and the Internet. Facebook, despite being officially banned, has gained a lot of popularity among Iranians in recent years. They use clever circumvention tools to outfox the regime.
Soheil created his Facebook page in August 2012, naming it “a generation that does not want to be silent.” He criticized the regime as the cause of socio-eco-polit
ical problems in the country.
The charge of mofsed-e-filarz was added to his case when the court deemed that he had insulted the Prophet on eight different Facebook pages that he administered.
It was then that his fate was sealed. Article 286 of Islamic Penal Code notes:
Any person, who extensively commits felony against the bodily entity of people, offenses against internal or international security of the state, spreading lies…that causes severe disruption in the public order of the state and insecurity, or causes harsh damage to the bodily entity of people or public or private properties, or causes distribution of corruption and prostitution on a large scale, shall be considered as mofsed-e-filarz [corrupt on earth] and shall be sentenced to death.
The problem is that in Iran, almost any criticism of the system can be regarded as “disrupting the internal security of the state,” and punished by death. This article has been used to execute thousands of Iranian dissidents since the 1979 Revolution.
Soheil created his Facebook page in August 2012, naming it “a generation that does not want to be silent.”
Three years has passed from Soheyl Arabi’s seven and half year sentence yet the theocrats in the Islamic Republic of Iran continue to oppose his conditional release & parole. This animosity is despite the ruling of the judge in the court of appeals, who declared that the accusation of [ insulting the prophet of Islam ] has no relevance to Soheyl’s case. The judge realized that the investigations were carried out under torture and duress. Namely, in the articles authored by Soheyl, there was nothing which could be perceived as insulting the prophet of islam. The court, under the pressure from the Revolutionary guards, refrained from issuing the [ not guilty ] verdict and changed the original death sentence to 22 years and six months. Later, reduced it to 7 years and six months (based upon the laws of collective regulations).
Contrary to what the Islamic Republic’s media (like Jam-e-Jam) are propagating, two years of religious research as a punishment for proving one’s remorse, has no precedence in the Iranian laws. In fact, these two years of research in addition to being banned from exiting Iran for another two years, is an unjust & twofold punishment which will be enforced after Soheyl completes his sentence.