The United States condemns the executions in Iran of two men who were sentenced to death on blasphemy-related charges.
On May 8, Yousef Mehrdad and Sadrollah Fazeli Zare were hanged at Arak prison in central Iran. They had been arrested in May 2020 for running the “Criticism of Superstition and Religion” channel on the Telegram messaging app. According to the Iranian judiciary’s official news agency Mizan, they were convicted of “insulting the Prophet and disrespecting religious and Islamic sanctities.”
At a press briefing, U.S. Deputy Spokesperson Vedant Patel said that “these latest executions are a grave reminder of the Iranian regime’s penchant for abusing and violating the human rights of the Iranian people. All blasphemy laws remain an affront to human rights worldwide, including in Iran.”
The U.S. State Department’s most recent annual report on international religious freedom noted that according to “numerous international human rights NGOs and media reporting, the [Iranian] government convicted and executed dissidents, political reformers, and peaceful protesters on charges of ‘enmity against God’ and anti-Islamic propaganda.”
On May 9, UN Human Rights Chief Volker Türk expressed dismay at the frighteningly high number of executions in Iran that have already taken place in 2023. “On average so far this year,” he said, “Over 10 people are put to death each week in Iran, making it one the world’s highest executors.”
After speaking of the executions of Mehrdad and Zare, State Department Deputy Spokesperson Vedant Patel pointed to the sanctions the U.S. has placed on Iranian officials and entities over Iran’s human rights atrocities. “The United States,” he declared, “will continue to take appropriate action, in accordance with our allies and partners … to hold the Iranian regime accountable for its egregious human rights abuses.”