On Nov 10, 1999, according to press reports "some 1,600   reformist students in Tehran demonstrated in protest at prison sentences handed down against three students charged with the publication of a "blasphemous" play in a student magazine." [See full report attached below].


The case of these students was reduced, by allegedly all of them denying intent for blasphemy, or they could have been executed by now, and even now in prison, they are not safe, and as soon as President Khatami secures better financial status for IRI, the situation in Iran can change, and these students and many others can be murdered in prison, or murdered by IRI vigilantes, the same way Foruhars and writers were murdered.


Even right now, a few others are being tried on similar charges of insulting religion and maybe heresy. Shams-ol-Vaezein of Neshat and Nouri of  Khordad daily.


The point is not whether any of these individuals are symbols of resistance to Islamic Republic of Iran or not. The point is not whether these individuals are pro-democracy, or just want their faction to have power in the Islamic Republic. The point is that persecuting by the heresy law, used now to kill the political opponents, and at other times to scare the populace, the way Salman Rushdie was treated by Islamic Inquisition, must be *abolished*.


Regardless of whether these individuals are honest about democracy or not, they are being persecuted for resisting these barbaric realities of Islamic Republic of IRan and not for resisting change in IRI.


Whether they just want an ecclesiastical reform or want their faction to rule Iran is irrelevant. The point is that they should not be defended by saying that their intention was *not* to insult Islam. They should be defended by saying that heresy persecution law is a barbaric remnant of Dark Ages practiced in 21st Century in the Islamic Republic of Iran and this law *must* be *abolished* and it does *not* matter whether these individuals intended to insult Islam or not. They should not be violated, arrested or tried by any entity or by the state in any court whether they have said heresy against the religion of Islam or not, and the state must defend them against vigilantes violating their life and not the other way around to cooperate with vigilantes.


If a religion needs to exist by killing people who deny it, that religion lacks any self-confidence in its viability and its followers better find another faith that does not need to kill people to keep people from denying it. Heresy law is not a law of any civilization. It is a *lack* of civilization.


Sam Ghandchi

Nov 15, 1999







* The above article was first posted on SCI (soc.culture.iranian) Usenet newsgroup on Nov15, 1999.  Below is the news attachment of this article.



*****************News Report************************

Wednesday, November 10 2:26 AM SGT


Reformist, conservative Iranian students stage rival demonstrations 


TEHRAN, Nov 9 (AFP) -


Reformist and conservative students in Tehran staged separate demonstrations Tuesday for and against liberalization of the press, against a background of judicial action against journalists. 


Some 1,600 reformist students demonstrated in protest at prison sentences handed down against three students charged with the publication of a "blasphemous" play in a student magazine, eye-witnesses reported. 


Numerous reformist student organizations, notably the Office of Unity and Consolidation, gathered at Tehran's Amir Kabir university, whose student group published the allegedly blasphemous play in its magazine Moj (wave). 


The play, which was accused of mocking the belief of Iran's Shiite Muslims in a so-called "hidden" imam or Mahdi who will return to usher in an age of justice, provoked outrage among conservatives here. 


During the gathering, the students called on judicial authorities to reduce the sentences, assuring that the three jailed students had had no bad intentions. 


"In our opinion, the students did not intend to insult anyone, and they were not even aware that they had," a resolution adopted by the students said. 


"The circulation of Moj is very low, they (the authorities) should take measures against those responsible for its wide distribution and the misleading interpretation (of the play)," they insisted. 


Tehran's press court sentenced Mohammad-Reza Namnabati and Abbas Nemati to three years each last week while Ali-Reza Aqaii was given six months. 


Mehdi Sajadehchi, a university professor, was charged with encouraging the students over the play but pardoned. 


A fourth student has also been accused but has not yet been tried. 


All four denied intent and expressed regret over the incident in their trial on October 20 before press court judge Said Mortazavi. 


Meanhwile, some 400 conservative students demonstrated close to a mosque in Tehran in protest against the reformist press for "insulting" Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. 


According to the conservative Resalat paper, the students were particularly angered by the pro-reform Asr-e Azadegan paper edited by Mashallah Shamsolvaezin. 


The prominent editor is currently on trial in Mortazavi's court on charges of having "insulted Islamic sanctities and fraud" in articles published in his now banned Neshat daily. 


Another editor, former vice president Abdollah Nuri, is facing similar charges in a clerical court. 


Since coming to office in 1997, Iranian President Mohammad Khatami has favoured the easing of press restrictions, leading to a new openness in discussing politics in the Islamic republic. 


But the conservative-controlled courts have fought back, banning four leading pro-Khatami dailies and arresting or interrogating dozens of journalists.




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