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Nine Get Lashes For 'Disturbing Peace' In Iran

TEHRAN (Reuters) -- Nine men convicted of disturbing the peace and damaging public property received 74 lashes each in the religious city of Qom, an Iranian newspaper has reported.

Judicial officials said the nine men had "disturbed the public peace, had group fights and damaged public property," the newspaper "Sarmayeh" reported. Each received 74 lashes in Qom, the Islamic republic's center of Shi'ite learning.

It said the men had damaged 15 public vehicles and broken windows with sticks and bottles.

Public lashings were common after the 1979 Islamic Revolution but have been less frequent in recent years. Pro-reform politicians under former President Mohammad Khatami opposed the practice, partly because of the negative image it created abroad.

Under President Mahmud Ahmadinejad, who came to power in 2005 vowing a return to revolutionary values, authorities have launched a crackdown on crime and the violation of religious codes, such as dress regulations.