Ahmad Khatami, Tehran's firebrand Friday Imam

Top Cleric Reiterates Call For Executing Iran Protesters

Friday, 11/18/2022

Iran's clerical regime signaled in Friday sermons that it will not compromise in meting out tough punishment to protesters, calling them rioters and enemies.

The message was delivered by Tehran’s Friday Prayer Imam and firebrand cleric Ahmad Khatami, who said according to religious principles, any attempt to weaken the regime is “haram” or forbidden and “we should deal with rioters using the toughest punishments.”

Friday prayer imams routinely send messages on top priorities and policies of the regime's hardliner core, controlled by the office of Iran's ruler Ali Khamenei.

Khatami categorized protesters into “murderers”, people “opposing God” and those who “spread lies and agitate public opinion”, saying that all are subject to death penalty.

Earlier this month, 227 hardliner members of Iran’s parliament sent a letter to the Judiciary asking for the death penalty for some protesters. The Judiciary, controlled by Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei has already sentenced several detainees to hanging.

But before detaining people, security forces resort to extreme violence on the streets, using any weapon they have without regard to age, gender or risk involved. Those who have military weapons shoot to kill.

Estimates by human rights monitoring organizations have put the death toll of protesters killed by a variety of regime forces at a minimum of 350 since mid-September. Estimates also say that around 15,000 have been arrested.

Officials, following the initial signal by Khamenei, have dubbed the two-month-old protests “riots” and the protesters “rioters”. Some of those arrested have been charged with “moharebeh” or fighting God, which is the most serious offense in Iran’s Islamic law and can trigger the death penalty. Many others among thousands of detainees will probably face the same accusation.

Khatami tried to balance his tough words by saying that “protests are not forbidden in Islam,” and the regime was only reacting to “rioters”, but the fact remains that security forces used force against the first small gatherings on September 16 when news broke that the 22-year-old Mahsa Amini had died in hospital after being beaten on the head by ‘morality police’.

According to the constitution, unarmed citizens are allowed to protest, and the interior ministry is supposed to receive applications and issue permits for assembly. But except government rallies, no group has ever received a permit for a protest.

Khatami blamed the government’s use of force on “rioters burning ambulances,” while hundreds of videos published in two months shows security forces attacking all gatherings everywhere, independent of what protesters might have done or not.

The hardliner cleric in his sermon also revealed the true thinking of the ruling circles, saying that the protesters’ aim is “overthrowing the regime” and this will not be tolerated. He also admitted that protests are weakening the foundations of the governing system.

Khatami also mentioned Iran’s dismemberment, a danger the government loves to speak about since protests broke out, to scare the average citizen from the consequences of the antigovernment movement. He claimed that Western countries plotting against Iran will be disappointed to see unity prevailing.

However, there has been little evidence of any separatist influence among protesters, who all emphasize ethnic solidarity between different regions of the vast country.

In fact, Mahsa Amini was a Kurd from a Kurdish city, but people in other parts of the country immediately came out to protest her killing in police custody.

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