April 23, 2021

By Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty

Two Iranians have been sentenced to death for allegedly insulting the Prophet Muhammad, according to a news outlet that covers news in Iran.

The Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) reported on April 22 that the two men were arrested and transferred to prison in Arak, the capital of Markazi Province, in May 2020.

An Arak court convicted the pair of “insulting the prophet,” which carries the death penalty, the report said.

It was not clear what the charge stemmed from.

One of the two men was identified as Yusef Mehrdad, a father of three, who was reportedly held in solitary confinement for two months following his arrest.

He is facing a number of other charges, including insulting Iranian leaders and acting against national security.

The second man has not been identified by HRANA.

In 2017, Iran dropped a death sentence handed to a man convicted of insulting the Prophet Muhammad in a series of Facebook posts. The sentence had been condemned by rights groups and activists.

Amnesty International said in its annual review of the death penalty published earlier this week that Iran executed at least 246 people last year, remaining the world’s second top executioner after China.

The London-based human rights watchdog said recorded executions in Iran continued to be lower than previous years, but the country “increasingly used the death penalty as a weapon of political repression against dissidents, protesters, and members of ethnic minority groups, in violation of international law.”