By Pooya Stone

The Iranian regime flogged a man 55 times for allegedly insulting a Friday prayer leader and “refusing to apologize” to him.

Rouhullah Barzin, a baker, had written a post criticizing Nourullah Afshar, the Friday prayer leader of Cheram, so Afshar filed a complaint against him.

The vicious sentence was carried out on Saturday, after being upheld by the appeals court in Kohgiluyeh and Boyer-Ahmad Province. Some reports stated that local officials tried to stop prevent the flogging but Afshar, the representative of the regime’s Supreme Leader in Cheram, insisted that the sentence go ahead.

In fact, Afshar told the state-run daily Tabnak that he considered the carrying out of the flogging sentence as essential to his civil rights and refused to take back his complaint because “the young man refused to apologize”.

In an attempt to justify the sentence, Afshar said: “According to the laws of the Islamic Republic, when a person carries out numerous insults and is not willing to apologize, what should (his punishment) be?”

 Nourullah, who is also the head of the Charam’s Headquarters for Promoting Virtue and Preventing Vice, had previously demanded during his Friday prayer sermons that several local officials be flogged.

Flogging is used as a punishment for dozens of offenses in Iran, including assault, theft, adultery, defamation, unmarried sex, and ‘breaches of public morals’, which could and has been taken to mean almost anything. This explains why so many protesters and dissidents are flogged.

Iran is legally obliged to forbid cruel, inhuman, and degrading punishment because the country is a party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, but the Iranian authorities justify such punishments as a means of protecting religious morals.

In early June, the regime flogged a Tehran labor activist 74 times. Rasoul Taleb Moghaddam, a member of the Sherkate Vahed Tehran Bus Union, had previously been sentenced by a Revolutionary Court in Tehran to lashes, two years in prison, two years of exile in Southern Khorasan province, and a two-year ban on membership in groups and using his cellphone.

They also lashed Azerbaijani rights activists Ali Azizi and Eliar Hosseinzadeh 20 times on the charge of “disturbing public order” for taking part in a protest against the gas price hike in November 2019.

Meanwhile, human rights activist Nader Afshari was taken to Evin Prison to begin serving his six-year sentence for “assembly and collusion against national security” and “propaganda against the state”.

 

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