Iran hangs two in rare blasphemy case as executions surge

Iran remains one of the world's top executioners


Iran carried out rare executions of two prisoners-- Yousef Mehrad and Sadrollah Fazeli Zare. The hangings, however, come as executions surge across the Islamic Republic following months of unrest. 

Iran remains one of the world's top executioners, having put to death at least 203 prisoners since the start of this year alone, according to the Oslo-based group Iran Human Rights. But carrying out executions for blasphemy remains rare, as previous cases saw the sentences reduced by authorities. 

The two men being held at Arak Prison in central Iran were arrested in May 2020. They were accused of being involved in a channel on the Telegram message app called Critique of Superstition and Religion. 

The executions were confirmed by the Mizan, a daily newspaper. Mizan described the men to have insulted Islam's Prophet Muhammad and promoted atheism. The news daily also accused them of burning the Quran. This, however, hasn't been verified. Countries like Saudi Arabia also conduct executions over blasphemy. 

In 2022, Iran executed at least 582 people, up from 333 people in 2021, according to Iran Human Rights. Following the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in police custody, executions have risen in the Islamic Republic. Reportedly 500 were killed and 19,000 were arrested in protests that followed her death. And at least four of the arrested were sentenced to death. 


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