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Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Trust Iran? It Just Hanged a Man For Doubting ‘Jonah and the Whale’

...in Iran, Mohsen Amir Aslani, a prisoner of conscience, was executed in the last act of a truly Kafkaesque legal process. Aslani, 37, was hanged in Rajaei Shahr Prison in Karaj at dawn on Wednesday September 24 for committing heresy and allegedly insulting the Prophet Jonah (Yunus in the Qur’an)—the one swallowed by a “big fish”; the one that God used to teach the lesson of compassion.
On the previous day, a prison official contacted Aslani’s parents and asked them to come and visit their son one final time. Prior to this, no information about his arrest or trial was made public because his family was led to believe that by keeping quiet about his arrest, he would eventually be released. News broke about his fate only hours before the sentence was carried out,  when a neighbor’s relative posted the news on Facebook and then shortly afterwards the Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) reported that Amir Aslani was being kept in solitary confinement and was awaiting his execution. This was almost eight years after his arrest, and yet was the first time word of his situation became public.
Before his imprisonment, Amir Aslani was a family man who worked as a psychologist but was interested in theology and gave religious classes that looked at different interpretations of the Qur’an. This was the cause for his arrest and nine months in solitary confinement in Cell Block 209 of Evin Prison in 2006. His original sentence was four years but was initially reduced to 28 months by the appeals court until Judge Abolghasem Salavati, an infamous “hanging judge,” handed down the death penalty on new, unfounded charges...

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