Iranian Hardline Cleric Says Protesters Should be Sentenced to Death

A Friday prayer leader in Tehran has called for the death penalty to be issued to citizens who participated in the weeklong protests that erupted across Iran in December 2017.

“In our theology, the ruling against those who pour into the streets in opposition to a just Islamic ruler, cause fires or kill people… is death,” said Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami during a sermon on February 2, 2018.

Khatami is a member of the chairing committee of the Assembly of Experts, the constitutional body that select’s the country’s ruler.

He continued: “If you want to show mercy, that’s fine. But don’t give us the impression that you just want rioters to go free. There’s a time for mercy and there’s a time for rage. You have to be firm against the leaders of the riots, like Imam Ali.”

Shia Muslims regard Ali (601-661 AD) as the successor to the Prophet Muhammad.

“Those who were played and fooled should be chastised and woken up and should pledge not to commit mischief again by acting as mercenaries for agitators,” added Khatami.

At least 25 people were killed and thousands arrested in Iran’s December 2017 protests.

According to information obtained by the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI), some protesters arrested in Hamadan and Khuzestan provinces were already facing charges that are punishable by death before Khatami’s fiery sermon.

“Some of them have been investigated, interrogated and charged with ‘rebellion,’” said a legal source in the city of Izeh, Khuzestan Province, who spoke on the condition of anonymity for security reasons.

“The families of the freed detainees have been threatened a lot and are too afraid to talk,” added the source. “Most of them say that they are being slapped with serious charges and if they do anything wrong, they could be given heavy sentences.”

According to Article 279 of Iran’s Constitution: “Moharebeh (rebellion) is defined as drawing a weapon against the life, property or chastity of people or to cause terror as it creates the atmosphere of insecurity.”

According to Article 286: “Any person, who extensively commits felony against the bodily entity of people, offenses against the internal or international security of the state, spreading lies, disruption of the economic system of the state, arson and destruction of properties, distribution of poisonous and bacterial and dangerous materials, and establishment of, or aiding and abetting in, places of corruption and prostitution [on a scale] 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-fel-arz [corrupt on earth] and shall be sentenced to death.”

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