US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) is outraged over reports that Iran may execute two political prisoners for “insulting the prophet."
Yousef Mehrad and Sadrollah Fazeli-Zare', jailed for insulting religious entities in Arak prison, were transferred to solitary confinement, raising fears their execution was imminent.
USCIRF Commissioner Sharon Kleinbaum tweeted Friday, “USCIRF is outraged and alarmed by indications that Iran may imminently execute Yusef Mehrdad and Seyyed Sadrullah Fazeli Zare in the religious charge of ‘insulting the Prophet.’ Execution for blasphemy is a grave violation of religious freedom.”
UNCIRF is an independent, bipartisan federal government entity that monitors and reports on threats to religious freedom.
US Special Envoy for Iran Robert Malley echoed the statement in a tweet, expressing his outrage. “Iran must stop persecuting and killing people for exercising their freedom of religion.
Mehrad, father of three, and Fazeli-Zare' were arrested in May 2020 over blasphemy-related charges after authorities accused them and five others of being a member of a Telegram channel entitled "Critique of Superstition and Religion." Members of the group reportedly expressed opinions about Islam and its Prophet Muhammad that were deemed insulting by the Islamic Republic.
In April 2021, Branch 1 of the Arak Criminal Court sentenced Mehrad and Fazeli-Zare' to death for "insulting Islamic sanctities" and "insulting the Prophet".
In June 2021, the Arak Revolutionary Court reportedly sentenced Mehrdad to eight years in prison in a separate criminal case for "propaganda against the state", "founding or leading an organization that aims to disrupt national security", and “insulting the Supreme Leader”.