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Iran: Blogger May Face Death Penalty for Insulting Islam

A 50-year old Iranian blogger, Mohammad Reza Pour Shajari (aka Siamak Mehr), has been charged with “insulting the Prophet of Islam” and “enmity with God” or “waging war against God”, charges that could carry the death penalty in Iran. His trial on December 21, 2011 lasted only 15 minutes.

His daughter, Mitra Pour Sharjari, told Deutsche Welle's Farsi service that her father told the judge he would not defend himself, because neither his lawyer, nor jury members, nor the media were there. He said, “One day, like Gaddafi, you will hide in a hole.” The judge replied that it makes no difference since, “Now we are here, and you, and people like you, will pay the price.”

Siamak Mehr was arrested in September 2010. In his blog, Iran Land's Report, he would criticize the Islamic Republic and Islam with strong words.

In his last post on September 8, 2010 he said he considered Shi'ite clerics a mafia group who had wasted away Iran's national resources since [the Islamic Revolution in] 1979.

Here is a video showing Siamak Mehr in chains, apparently on his way to court:

Iranian blogger Azarmehr writes about this video, saying:

Who would you expect to be chain bound, hands and feet, and surrounded by revolutionary guards special units as he is taken to appear before the revolutionary court? A dangerous criminal? In fact, the person you see hands and feet bound in the footage below is a gentle and polished man, who has lost a kidney as a result of tortures he has suffered in prison.

Mehdi Roud writes [fa]:

This blogger was charged with Medieval laws for publishing his ideas in his blog. His family did not have the right to be present in court… and a political prisoner like him can face the death penalty.

In February 2011, Bazaferinieazad published a letter by Siamak Mehr where he says he is accused of acting against national security and insulting the regime's leaders.

It also says his file mentions that he insulted [Islamic] sanctity like Salman Rushdie (a British Indian writer who Iran's Ayatollah Khomeini famously issued a fatwa against).

In a letter to his daughter, Siamak Mehr writes:

Dear Mitra,
Remember I am not just a person, but I am also a notion. A notion which is deep rooted amongst Iranians, and I am extremely hopeful that finally we shall overcome this evil, this anti-human anti-freedom and anti-life source. Therefore never regard my physical destruction as the destruction of this flourishing notion”

The Iranian regime has jailed several bloggers in recent years. As the tragic death of imprisoned blogger Omid Reza Mirsayafi in 2010 showed, the more a blogger is isolated and deprived of a network, the more he is in danger.

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