The last few weeks have witnessed a new wave of fear in Iran in the form of ‘lashing’. It can be said that it had a been a while since we last heard of lashing for freedom of speech cases, but it seems that they are trying to make an example of it for potential ‘offenders’. Shortly after Somayeh Tohidloo received 50 lashes for blogging (against national security), Peyman Aref, a political activist, got 74 lashes for insulting (criticising to be precise) the president. We hope that Mr. Ahmadinejad feels relieved now that Peyman’s been scarred for life.
Cinema and National Security
Marzieh Vafamehr (already covered in previous blogs) was sentenced to 1 year in prison and 90 lashes. It seems that she appears ‘unveiled’ in a critically acclaimed film called ‘My Tehran for Sale’. Interestingly, this film, like any other film produced in Iran, had already been approved by the Ministry of Islamic Culture and Guidance. Standards? What standards?
Surprisingly, we heard some good news in relation to filmmakers being forcefully affiliated with the BBC. Naser Saffarian and Mohsen Shahnazdar have been released on bail. 2 down, 4 to go … hopefully!
A One of a Kind Incident: Prisoners Beaten on Trial
15 individuals arrested in September in an Iftar ceremony (Ramadan), charged with ‘assembly with the intention of committing crime against national security’ received a collective sentence of 30 years. Just a quick reminder that they had congregated to criticise the officials’ lack of attention to tackle the drying up of Lake Urumieh. Having objected to this ridiculous sentence as they were being cuffed, they ended up getting a severe beating while still in the court.
Right to Free Expression of Religious Minorities (or lack of it)
According to HRA New Agency, 56 Sunni preachers were collectively sentenced to 164 years in prison. It is noteworthy to mention that in addition to Iran being a signatory of various international conventions, the Constitution of Iran (Article 23) also protects all individuals from being prosecuted simply on account of their religious beliefs. We know showing respect to international conventions is a long shot, but seriously, the Constitution too?
Censorship – Cyber or Otherwise
Hard to believe but according to Digarban, the Supreme Leader has issued a fatwa that Facebook, if not used for spreading corruption (including pornography and lies) or strengthening the enemies of Islam, is ‘impermissible’ but ‘acceptable’. Of course our friends at the filtering committee in Iran have shown more interest in the ‘impermissible’ part of the fatwa and kept this website off limits.
Serat News says a headquarters for supervision of satellite television has been launched to prevent «cultural invasion». As mentioned before, the censorship bureau of Iran is still welcoming new job-seekers!
The head of public relations for the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, has said that the Basij militia will organise a press corps of 21,000 «voluntary journalists» – No Comments!
Photo: Student activist Peyman Aref was released after his lashing sentence was carried out.