The Revolutionary Court handed down prison sentences to 16 followers of a mystic religious order on February 5.
Authorities arrested 40 followers and instructors of the Erfan Halgheh (Interuniversalism) consciousness movement, charging them with “setting up illegal classes,” “acquisition of illegitimate wealth” and blasphemy. The court sentenced them from between one to five years’ imprisonment, and a total of 130 million tomans ($37,000) between them.
The court also charged some of the activists with possession of alcohol, according to Fars News Agency. The agency, which has close ties to the government, said the Halgheh order was “perverted” and “corrupt”.
The founder of the movement, Mohammad Ali Taheri, was arrested on May 4, 2011 on charges of “spreading corruption on earth”. Following his arrest, further charges of heresy were brought against him. In recent weeks, groups of Taheri’s supporters have staged peaceful protests outside Evin Prison and Iran’s Central Bar Association in Tehran. According to Halgheh News, security forces have repeatedly attacked and threatened the demonstrators, forcing the groups to disperse.
Taheri has been held in solitary confinement at Evin Prison for three years. His supporters claim that he in poor ill health due as a result of a series of hunger strikes.
Iran’s judicial authorities repeatedly target minority religions and movements, handing down harsh prison sentences to members of the Baha’i faith. On January 28, the Supreme Court upheld the prison sentences of seven Gonabadi Sufi dervishes.
Read the original article in Persian