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Clerics Say Protesters Not 'Enemies Of God'

We reported earlier this week about the case of a 20-year-old student from Damghan University sentenced to death after being accused of "moharebeh," or waging war against God, after taking part in an antigovernment protest in December. We noted that opposition websites said the death sentence against Mohammad Amin Valian was upheld by an appeals court.

Amin Valian
An opposition website, "The Green Voice of Neda," had reported that Valian's death sentence was issued based on a speech by Ayatollah Makarem Shirazi in which he had reportedly called the desecrators of Ashura "mohareb," or enemies of God who deserve to die.

Ayatollah Shirazi, however, has said on his website that he has never issued such a fatwa and the report represents "mischief by some websites."

"We are aware of the fact that some youngsters, under the influence of recent unrest, have resorted to violence. They have to be guided and taught. If they do not belong to any particular corrupt groups belonging to the aliens; they have be granted amnesty."

The reformist Ayatollah Sanei has also said that those who protest against the government are not "mohareb."

"Whenever an organized group protests against the government and its actions, it is definitely not fighting against God (moharebeh) and their actions constitute defense of their rights and grievance against the oppression that they have been subjected to. It is not only permissible but in some stages it is necessary."

"Advarnews" reports that another cleric, Ayatollah Bayat Zanjani, has also said that those who protest cannot be considered "mohareb."

"A person who uses arm against people and kill them is a Mohareb and not those who have come with empty hands and taken protest actions," the cleric is quoted as saying.

Meanwhile Iran's largest reformist student group, the Office to Foster Unity (Daftar Tahkim Vahdat), has protested against Valian's death sentence and said it is a warning to "Iran's universities and civil society."

Iran's student activists have come under a lot of pressure, and a number of them have been jailed in the postelection crackdown, including: Bahareh Hedayat, Mehdi Arabshahi, and Morteza Semyari.

The student group has called for the immediate cancellation of the death sentence against Valian and the release of jailed students.

About This Blog

Persian Letters is a blog that offers a window into Iranian politics and society. Written primarily by Golnaz Esfandiari, Persian Letters brings you under-reported stories, insight and analysis, as well as guest Iranian bloggers -- from clerics, anarchists, feminists, Basij members, to bus drivers.


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