A man has been arrested and given a prison sentence for setting a statue of former Quds Force commander Ghasem Soleimani on fire.
The incident took place in the city of Yasuj in Kohgiluyeh and Boyer-Ahmad province in August, and the jail term was announced on September 1, though no details of the length of the prison sentence are available. Previously, three men were handed down a 16-year sentence for a similar offense.
Yasuj Public and Revolutionary Prosecutor Seyed Ali Malek Hosseini said authorities had arrested an individual for causing damage to the statue of Soleimani, who led military and intelligence operations for the Revolutionary Guards Corps’ Quds Force before being killed in a United States drone strike in January 2020. Soleimani had close links to the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei and was regarded as one of the Islamic Republic's most important heroes — and martyrs — in recent years.
Hosseini said a video had been released online on August 11 showing the statue on fire, prompting Kohgiluyeh and Boyer-Ahmad intelligence agents to launch a thorough investigation to identify and punish those responsible.
The Yasuj prosecutor described the incident as shameful and disgraceful and said the person who had been arrested had been interrogated and sent to prison after he confessed to his crime.
However, the incident is not isolated: there have been multiple reports of images of Soleimani being set on fire or destroyed in several areas across Iran. Attacks on these banners and memorials are most likely linked to growing discontent in Iran over the government’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic, the shooting down of a Ukrainian passenger airplane in 2020, and the collapsed economy, among other events and evidence of social inequality, poverty and political disenfranchisement.
Prior to the arrest in Yasuj, three young men in the city of Baneh were sentenced to a total of 16 years and seven months in prison for setting fire to a banner memorializing Ghasem Soleimani.