Eight Individuals Sentenced to Prison and Public Flogging for Blasphemy and Public Order Disruption

The Criminal Court of Arak in Markazi Province has issued a collective sentence of 48 years in prison and 925 public lashes for eight individuals: Mohammad Soltani, Majid Nik-Ahd, Mehdi Nik-Ahd, Abolfazl Khoran, Vahid-Reza Arabi, Ramtin Edrisi, Mostafa Kamani, and Mohammad-Reza Asadi.

As per these judgments, each person has been condemned to five years of imprisonment on charges of blasphemy, in addition to one year and 74 lashes for “disrupting public order.” The flogging sentences will be carried out publicly in a mosque in Arak following Friday prayers.

The prison sentences for Majid Nik-Ahd, Mehdi Nik-Ahd, and Vahid-Reza Arabi have been suspended for five years.

Maryam Bostani, another defendant in the case, has been acquitted of all charges.

Previously, as part of their legal proceedings, these individuals had each received eight-month sentences from the Arak Revolutionary Court for “spreading propaganda against the regime.”

In August of this year, these individuals were arrested following attending a memorial ceremony for Mehrshad Shahidi, who was tragically killed by government forces during the nationwide protests of 2022 in Arak.

Numerous University Professors Face Expulsions and Suspensions Ahead of Mahsa Amini Protests Anniversary

As the anniversary of the 2022 nationwide protests, known as the Mahsa Amini Protests, approaches, Iranian academic circles are witnessing increased pressure from security institutions. A rising number of university professors are being expelled or suspended under various justifications.

Currently, HRANA has documented 22 university professors who have been affected, facing expulsion or suspension.

The roster of professors targeted due to their perceived involvement in supporting last year’s protests is as follows:

  • Mohammad-Reza Nazari-Nejad-expelled
  • Raham Afghani-expelled
  • Ali Sharifi Zarchi-expelled
  • Dariush Rahmanian-expelled
  • Hamideh Khademi-expelled
  • Amaneh Ali-expelled
  • Mehdi Khoyi-expelled
  • Aziz Shafiee Zarghani-expelled
  • Baharak Akhtardanesh-expelled
  • Mohammad-Mehdi Olumi-expelled
  • Raheleh Ali-Moradzadeh-expelled
  • Vahid Eydgah-suspended
  • Javad Bashari-suspended
  • Milad Azimi-suspended
  • Leily Varahram-suspended
  • Ghasem Azizi-suspended
  • Hossein Mesbahian-suspended
  • Arash Bidollah Khani-suspended
  • Shirzad Azad-suspended
  • Azin Movahed-suspended
  • Mehdi Motie-suspended
  • Mohammad Soltani-suspended

Moreover, Safavardi, a former professor of political science at Islamic Azad University, revealed that nine professors have been compelled into early retirement due to reasons such as holding pro-Western opinions and expressing dissent against the Islamic Revolution. He did not, however, mention their names.

Just last month, Sharifi Zarchi, a faculty member at the Sharif University of Technology, exposed the covert infiltration of approximately 15,000 individuals purportedly “aligned with the government” into faculty boards. In protest against these actions targeting Iranian academics, Mohammad-Reza Aref, the head of the Union of University Professors (and a former Vice President of Iran), tendered his resignation.

Two days ago, the Ministry of Interior expressed approval of the Ministry of Science’s decision to dismiss university professors, asserting that this action aligns with legal, administrative criteria, and “the revolutionary duty to sustain the vibrancy of universities’ academic and cultural landscapes”, warranting appreciation. Furthermore, these professors were accused of “politicizing and exploiting their positions for political and partisan gains.”

It is crucial to note that the Iranian regime has a historical record of purging both students and professors, particularly in humanities and arts faculties, who express criticism towards the regime. In a report, Etemad Newspaper has identified 157 university professors who were expelled over the course of the last three administrations.

Background on the 2022 Nationwide Protests

The arrest of Mahsa Amini by Tehran Morality Police for her improper hijab and her suspicious death on September 16 sparked protests sweeping across Iran. Protesters came to the streets with the central slogan “Women, Life, Freedom” in protest against the performance, laws and structure of the regime. During the nationwide protests, thousands of people, including journalists, artists, lawyers, teachers, students and civil rights activists, were arrested.

Mohammad Sultani Arrested by Security Forces in Arak

On August 5, 2023, Mohammad Sultani (Soltani) was apprehended by security forces at his residence in Arak and taken to an undisclosed location.

According to a source, speaking to HRANA, the agents conducted a search of his residence and confiscated some of his belongings during the arrest.

As of now, the specific reasons behind his arrest, his current whereabouts, and the charges brought against him remain undisclosed. The situation is being monitored, and further updates will be provided as more information becomes available.

Iran Protests: Mohammad Soltani Detained for over Three Months

Mohammad Soltani, arrested during the 2022 nationwide protests, is still detained in Vakilabad prison for over three months, awaiting further legal proceedings.

According to HRANA, the news agency of Human Rights Activists, Mohammad Soltani, age 27, is still detained for over three months in Vakilabad Prison.

On December 3, 2022, the intelligence agents arrested Soltani at his home in Mashhad and took him to Vakilabad Prison.

About the 2022 Nationwide Protests

The arrest of Mahsa Amini by Tehran Morality Police for her improper hejab and her suspicious death on September 16 sparked protests sweeping across Iran. During the nationwide protests, about 19600 people, including journalists, artists, lawyers, teachers, students and civil rights activists, were arrested.




A Comprehensive Report of the First 82 days of Nationwide Protests in Iran

  HRANA – Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old young woman, was arrested by the morality police for the crime of improper hijab. Her arrest and death in detention fueled nationwide protests in Iran. Protesters came to the streets with the central slogan “Women, Life, Freedom” in protest against the performance, laws, and structure of the regime. The following 486-page report is dedicated to the statistical review, analysis, and summary of the first eighty-two days of the ongoing protests (September 17 to December 7, 2022). In this report, in addition to the geographic analysis and the presentation of maps and charts, the identity of 481 deceased, including 68 children and teenagers, an estimated of 18,242 arrested along with the identity of 3,670 arrested citizens, 605 students and 61 journalists or activists in the field of information is compiled. In addition, the report includes a complete collection of 1988 verified video reports by date and topic. The report examines protests across 1115 documented gatherings in all 31 provinces of the country, including 160 cities and 143 universities.


Mahsa (Zhina) Amini, a young 22-year-old woman from Saqqez, Kurdistan was visiting Tehran, when she was taken into custody on Tuesday, September 13, 2022, by the Morality Police officers at the Haqqani metro station in Tehran. The reason for her arrest: not properly observing the strict Islamic dress code. Mahsa/Zhina was taken to the infamous detention center of Moral Security Police known as Vozara.
Shortly after Mahsa’s arrest, she went into a coma with level three concussion, and her partially alive body was transferred to the intensive care unit of Kasra Hospital. Given the track record of the police and Guidance Patrols in mistreating the arrestees and similar previous incidents, with the believe that Mahsa was beaten during the arrest people were outraged.

Download full report in PDF format

Unpersuasive explanations given by the Central Command of the Islamic Republic Police Force (FARAJA) in defense of its actions regarding the death of Mahsa, the past performance of the police force, along with widespread dissatisfaction with the existence of a body called the Moral Security Police, fueled widespread protests in Iran.
The widespread protests sparked at the time Mahsa Amini was announced dead in front of Kasra Hospital on Argentina Street in Tehran, and then quickly spread to the streets despite the intimidating presence of Iran’s security forces. The protests intensified after Mahsa’s burial in a Saqqez cemetery. To the extent that after eighty-two days of nationwide protests between September 17, 2022, to December 7, 2022, they have spread to Iran’s all 31 provinces, 160 cities, and 143 major universities.
The protests did not stay limited to Mahsa’s death, it rather, quickly targeted the Iranian government’s political and ideological foundations. These protests were violently quashed by the anti-riot police and Iran’s militia force (Basij). teargas, pellets, and live ammunition were used in the repression of protestors. This widespread crackdown has led to the death of dozens of people and the wounding of hundreds of protestors.
Despite sever communication restrictions imposed by the Islamic Republic, this report attempts to give a clearer picture of the first 82 days of the protests between September 17, to December 7, 2022. It’s worth mentioning at the time of this report the protests are still ongoing in various forms.

Table of Contents



For further inquiries please contact Skylar Thompson, Senior Advocacy Coordinator Human Rights Activists in Iran (HRA) at [email protected]

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