This week in Iran’s provinces: two convicted murderers are saved from execution at the last minute; drug officials report that eight people lose their lives to drug addiction every day; anti-American billboards return to Iranian cities; Iran’s former intelligence minister blames the UK for the number of acid attacks on women; a women’s rights activist is arrested at a protest.
Khuzestan killer’s execution halted
The family of a murder victim stopped the execution of the criminal in Mahshahr in the southwestern province of Khuzestan on November 2. The noose had already been placed around the man’s neck when the family agreed to forgive him for his crime. According to Mahshar Prison’s press office, the victim’s brother kissed the head of the convicted man and told him: “God gave you a second chance; do not forget God.”
Every day eight people die of drug abuse in Iran
On November 1, Hanif Hosseini, an official at Iran’s Drug Control Headquarters, announced that at least eight people a day in Iran lose their lives to drug abuse. The majority of those who die are aged between 25 and 30
According to Babak Dinparast from the Iran Anti-Narcotics Headquarters for Reducing Drug Demand and Promoting Public Participation, over a million people across the country have confessed to suffering from drug addiction.
“Twenty-six percent of addicts are addicted to industrial drugs, such as methamphetamine, and women constitute 9.4 percent of all industrial drug addicts,” he said.
Iran sits on a major drug route between Afghanistan and Europe; the country shares approximately 900 kilometers of common border with Afghanistan.
Anti-American billboards return to Iranian cities
Anti-American billboards, which were removed by Iranian officials in October 2013, have returned to Tehran and some other cities.
The billboard campaign uses a range of tactics to encourage hatred for the United States among ordinary Iranians. “Recognize the Shemr of the century”, one reads, referring to one of Shia Islam's biggest villains, implicated in the beheading of Hussein, the third Shia Imam and the grandson of the Prophet Muhammad. Others feature the White House sitting alongside the tents of Caliph Yazid, who sent Shemr’s army to destroy Hussein and his followers.
According to Iusnews, the adverts were designed and produced by the House of Islamic Revolution Designers, a small organization owned by hardliner politicians and supporters.
President Rohauni’s administration removed the posters in 2013, and, according to some Iranian officials, they were recently reposted without permission.
Moslehi blames UK media for the number of acid attacks in Isfahan
The UK intelligence service is culpable for the recent acid attacks on women, according to former Iranian intelligence minister Heydar Moslehi. In a October 31 statement, Moslehi said he believes that UK attempts to stop the recent bill promoting the Islamic notion of “enjoining good and forbidding wrong,” currently making its way through Iranian parliament, led to further attacks in the central city of Isfahan.
International media coverage of the acid attacks was a cynical move to stop the bill, Moslehi said, saying it was evidence of a conspiracy against the legislation.
“There are many spies, Israelis, members of the Islamic State, and infidels in Iran, and foreigners spread news that the acid attacks have links to whoever supports the bill,” he said. “We should consider that the root of all of this is the UK media, which spread the rumor from the beginning.”
Hardliners put forth the bill for “enjoining good and forbidding wrong;” critics insist it would legalize vigilantes who patrol the streets and warn other people about their behavior, including the wearing of “bad hejab.”
Women's Rights activist arrested in Tehran
Mahdieh Golrou, a women's rights activist and a member of the Iran Women Citizens Association (IWCA), was arrested four days after participating in a protest against acid attacks in Isfahan.
According to the IWCA, Golroo was arrested at her home on the morning of October 26 and taken to an unknown location. Authorities also inspected and confiscated some of her personal belongings.
Family and supporters believe Golroo was arrested in connection with the October 22 protest outside an Isfahan government building, when thousands of people gathered to demand that authorities protect them.
Golroo, who is a member of the Council for Defence of Education Rights, was one of hundreds arrested after the contested presidential election of 2009. Initially sentenced to 28 months in prison, the appellate court later reduced the sentence to two years. However, the Revolutionary Court handed down an additional six-month sentence just as she was about to be released. Golroo has also been banned from resuming her education at Allameh Tabatabai University.
Shiraz governor intervenes to save the life of convicted murderer
A convicted murderer was saved from the gallows after the victim’s mother forgave him and the governor of Shiraz intervened. “Gholamreza B,” 22, stabbed 19-year-old Amin Zahmatkesh during a street brawl in Javadieh village, in the southern province of Fars, three years previously. According to qisas, the sharia law of retribution, the victim’s family have the right to stop executions, granting forgiveness to the accused.
International water polo referee dies in car accident
Iranian international water polo referee Iman Valizadeh and his German wife, Yasmin, died in a car accident on the morning of Thursday, October 30. The couple were traveling on Tehran’s Chamran motorway at around 80 kilometers per hour when their car was hit by another one going 200 kilomoters per hour. Valizadeh’s car slammed into the concrete walls of the motorway.
The couple were married in a civil ceremony; their wedding party was scheduled to take place in two months’ time. Iranian police said the driver responsible for the crash was likely to have been drunk.