Human, Social Impacts of Iran’s Institutional Extremism

 Hekmati’s arrest and ten year prison sentence may thus have been motivated by the Iranian regime’s impulse to defend Islam against foreign interlopers, but a new editorial calling for Hekmati’s release takes the interesting step of specifically invoking Islam and suggesting that Tehran unsubstantiated case against the US citizen is actually obstructing an innocent man from fulfilling his duties as a Muslim.

“Amir Hekmati is a good man—a loving son, a brother,” wrote Montel Williams in an editorial published Friday in Politico magazine. “Given his health, the health of his father, and the clear teaching of the Islamic faith with respect to the eldest son’s obligations, it is time for the Iranians to send him home.”

But this perception of the situation arguably depends upon a moderate form of Islam that the Iranian regime does not possess, judging by the extent of its reliance on legal repressions and executions to maintain its conception of Islamic morality.

A report released this week by the National Council of Resistance of Iran highlights some of the most recent human rights abuses that characterize this institutional Shiite extremism. As part of its virtually constant crackdowns on minority religious movements, the regime’s Supreme Court recently sentenced five members of a sect known as Gonabadi dervishes to sentences of exile – one to last for the defendant’s lifetime and four to last 28 years.

But the theocratic system also justifies distinctly violent crackdowns on various other perceived threats to Islamic morality and social stability, including political activism and certain non-violent crimes including drug crimes. While the charges have not been publicly reported in every case, at least 70 individuals have been executed by the Iranian regime in the month of January alone, according to human rights groups.

According to the latest NCRI report, 17 people have been executed in just the past week. What’s more, on January 28 in a single prison, Shahab Prison, five more individuals were transferred to solitary confinement in a move that usually signifies imminent execution. On the same day, threats of execution were used in an apparent effort to maintain social order when the families of several young people arrested in a raid in Nasir Village inquired about the health of the arrestees.

Regime officials reportedly told those families that their loved ones would receive long prison sentences of be quickly executed if any information about the individuals concerned was leaked to the press or to human rights organizations.