A prominent reformist scholar in Iran has been sentenced to death on charges of insulting Islam's prophet and questioning the interpretation of Islam, his lawyer said Thursday.
A court in Hamedan in western Iran sentenced university professor Hashem Aghajari to death, Saleh Nikbakht told The Associated Press. Aghajari was detained in August after a closed hearing in Hamedan where he made a speech in June questioning the hard-line interpretations of the ruling clerics.
Nikbakht said Aghajari, a top member of the reformist political party, Islamic Revolution Mujahedeen Organization, was also sentenced to 74 lashes, banned from teaching for 10 years and exiled to three remote Iranian cities for eight years.
Nikbakht insisted his client had not said anything that insulted the Prophet Muhammad, as the charges alleged. "There has never been a word insulting the prophet in Aghajari's speech. This verdict is nothing but a rule against Iran's national interests," Nikbakht said.
In his speech, Aghajari had said clerics' teachings on Islam were considered sacred simply because they were part of history, and he questioned why clerics were the only ones authorized to interpret Islam. (Albawaba.com)
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