Iran Sentences A 30-Year-Old Man To Death For His Facebook Post

The 30-year-old was arrested in November 2013, along with his wife. While she was soon released, Arabi has been kept behind bars, where he has endured numerous interrogations, psychological pressure, and long periods of solitary confinement.

Cover image via Soheil Arabi/The Verge

This is Soheil Arabi, a 30-year-old blogger and photographer. Soheil has been sentenced to death by a Tehran criminal court for "insulting the prophet of Islam" on Facebook. He was convicted in August after admitting to posting the defamatory content.

Soheil Arabi with his 5-year-old daughter, Rojan

Image via

His lawyers argued that he had done so while "in poor psychological condition" and that he was merely sharing views held by others

“Soheil had eight Facebook pages under different names, and he was charged with insulting the Imams and the Prophet because of the contents of those pages. He has accepted his charges, but throughout the trial, he stated that he wrote the material without thinking and in poor psychological condition.”

“The way he was arrested was illegal. It is not clear how the agents were able to enter their home at that time in the morning. All the doors were locked and family members were asleep. Agents entered his home and bedroom. He and his wife were arrested and some of their photographs and personal belongings were taken after their home was searched.”

But Iran's Supreme Court upheld the conviction late last month and went a step further by adding a charge of "sowing corruption of Earth." This charge is also punishable by death and cannot be pardoned, as per a report by The Verge.

A Tehran Criminal Court found Arabi guilty of "sabb al-nabi" (insulting the Prophet), on August 30. The crime carries a death sentence.

Arabi was also sentenced in a separate case based on the same social media posts. He was sentenced September 4 to three years in jail for "spreading propaganda against the system," and "insulting the leader."

International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran (ICHRI) claims that Arabi's lawyers fought the charges on the provisions of Article 264, which says that "if a suspect merely claims in court that he said the insulting words in anger, in quoting someone, or by mistake, his death sentence will be converted to 74 lashes."

But on November 24, a year after Arabi's arrest, the Supreme Court not only upheld the lower court's decision, but also added an additional charge of "corruption on Earth," which means the blogger now cannot receive a pardon.

While Human Rights Watch has called on the Iranian government to halt his death sentence, officials have shown no sign of leniency

"Currently, there is no pardon, and he’s been convicted of 'corruption on Earth,'" Gholam Ali Mohseni Ejei, deputy head of Iran's judiciary, told reporters Monday. "But there has been a request for his case to be reviewed again."

The only remaining avenue to pursue to halt Arabi's execution lies with a judge in Branch 41 of the Supreme Court, according to ICHRI

The judge could revoke the corruption on Earth charge by saying it was "added by mistake," which would allow the case to be reviewed in a lateral court, the group said.

Beyond seeking a stay on Arabi's execution, Amnesty went further by calling for Iran to "establish an official moratorium on executions as a first step towards abolishing the death penalty." The group also said in a statement last week that Arabi's case is the second known time a blogger has been sentenced to death for "insulting the prophet." Rouhollah Tavanato was convicted on similar charges in February 2014.

HWR has voiced concerns that Iran broadly uses the charge of "sowing corruption on Earth" against writers, bloggers, journalists and political opponents to silence any sort of dissidence and suppress freedom of speech, assembly, and religion.

According to Amnesty International, Arabi's conviction marks the second time that an Iranian has been sentenced to death for insulting the Prophet Mohammed

Critical posts on Facebook could lead to a man's execution in Iran.

Image via

In August, an engineer named Rouhollah Tavana was sentenced to death after allegedly insulting the prophet in a video clip. Amnesty, like Human Rights Watch, has called upon the government to halt Arabi's hanging and release him immediately.

"It is simply shocking that anyone should face the gallows simply because of Internet postings that are deemed to be crude, offensive, or insulting," Eric Goldstein, deputy Middle East and North Africa director at Human Rights Watch, said in a statement this week. "Iran should urgently revise its penal code to eliminate provisions that criminalize peaceful free expression, especially when they punish its exercise with death."

Other related stories on SAYS: