Iran’s top Sunni leader Mowlavi Abdolhamid delivering a sermon in Zahedan

Iran’s Top Sunni Leader Urges Halt To Surging Executions

Friday, 02/23/2024

Iran’s top Sunni leader has reiterated concerns over the rising number of executions, stating that repression has failed to deter people from pursuing their demands.

During his Friday sermon in Zahedan, capital of southeastern Sistan-Baluchestan Province, Mowlavi Abdolhamid called for a halt to political and drug-related executions, that has shocked not only Iranians but also the entire world.

The majority of executions in Iran are related to drug-related convictions. Abdolhamid has repeatedly said that lack of jobs in his province and some other impoverished areas is the prime reason people are driven to smuggling fuel, minor drug-related offences, or drug trafficking.

In Iran gasoline and especially diesel are extremely cheap (around 10 US cents per gallon) due to heavy government subsidization. This leads to smuggling of fuel to neighboring countries such as Pakistan. Many of these individuals, the cleric said, end up in prison or even executed.

Referring to political charges against protesters that potentially lead to the death penalty, he highlighted that during the time of the Prophet of Islam, executions were as rare as the fingers of one hand, and those were related to "retribution."

"The Prophet did not even execute those who provided information to the enemies and said that if I do this, they will say that he kills his own people and is not loyal to them," Abdolhamid told his congregation.

Since December 2022, at least nine protesters have been executed in connection with the Women, Life, Freedom protests, and the ensuing crackdown. According to Human Rights Activists News Agency, in 2023 alone, at least 791 citizens, including 25 women and two juvenile offenders, were executed -- a 33 percent increase compared to the previous year. Additionally, reports from Amnesty International revealed that from January 2012 to July 2023, over 5,000 individuals, including 57 children, were executed in Iran.

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