The execution of Morteza Jamali, who was the father of two children, prompted the society’s hatred against the entire government. In response, the judiciary tried to justify its crime.

The man had been arrested and punished several times between 2007 and 2018 on charges of drinking and possessing alcohol, driving under the influence (DUI), and other crimes, the local judiciary stated. According to the ayatollahs’ constitution, the first punishment for drinking in usually flogging.

Iranian authorities’ claim about Sharia law comes while the execution of a person for drinking alcohol is unprecedented in Islam’s history. Their explanation had no religious basis and Iran’s ayatollahs are the first implementers to implement these sentences in recorded history.

However, the government pursues to intimidate the society by carrying out inhuman punishments such as the death penalty, amputation, and long-term prison terms. It is worth noting that in December 2017, nationwide protests that immediately extended to almost all of Iran’s 31 provinces, began from Mashhad city.

Furthermore, Mashhad is Iran’s second major city and a religious hub in the country. Developments in this city can rapidly affect other parts of the country. In this respect, the supreme leader Ali Khamenei appointed a brutal cleric Ahmad Alamolhoda as his representative and the leader of Friday prayers in Mashhad.

Alamolhoda has a notorious history in provoking other officials to conduct harsh crimes. He also seeks to return Mashhad to medieval ages by implementing odd restrictions and banning cultural activities, concerts, etc.

In another case, in May, Mashhad’s judiciary amputated four fingers of a poor man under the charge of stealing a few sheep. This is while the judiciary system is drowned in corruption cases of judicial agents. The new judiciary chief Ebrahim Raisi vehemently attempts to style himself as a counter-corruption figure.

For instance, Raisi himself oversees one of the most significant financial institutions in Iran, Astan-e Quds Razavi, which has expanded across Mashhad and its metropolitan areas. Notably, his institution was under the domination of Khamenei and is exempted from taxes. Only the supreme leader and the chief of the institution know the scale of Astan’e Quds’ assets. However, he has never provided a transparent report about the institution’s colossal capital, and how and where it is spent.

In recent weeks, Raisi initiated publicity stunt by launching an investigation into the corruption charges of Akbar Tabari, the executive deputy of former judiciary chief Sadegh Larijani. The judiciary tries to highlight Tabari’s case as a sign of counter-corruption measures under Raisi’s direction. Ironically, Raisi was Tabari’s colleague for many years.

The uptick in repressive measures happens while the Iranian regime is also struggling to find a successor for the 80-year-old supreme leader. As Khamenei’s diseases have become exacerbated, he seriously looks for portraying his disciple Raisi as an angel of justice to groom him for succession. Notably, in 2017, the supreme leader attempted to build a career for Raisi by appointing him as president.

However, the Iranian opposition People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMIO/MEK) ‘s campaign in revealing Raisi’s crimes against political prisoners in the summer of 1988 leading to the extrajudicial execution of over 30,000 political prisoners, mostly members, and supporters of the PMOI/MEK, pushed Khamenei to turn back from Raisi and acquiesce to a second mandate for the so-called reformist candidate Hassan Rouhani.

At the time, Rouhani exploited public hatred against Raisi’s history of human rights violations. “The people do not want those who know the execution and prison in the past 38 years,” Rouhani said in a meeting in Hamedan. Now, Raisi continues his crimes as the judiciary chief and his department frequently issues the death penalty and harsh sentences against ordinary people and protesters to curb further unrest.

In Iran, all death penalties and other severe sentences are approved by the judiciary chief. A few days ago, the Supreme Court upheld the death sentence of three protesters who were detained by security forces in November 2019. An Islamic Republic court sentenced Amir Hossein Moradi, Saeed Tamjidi, and Mohammad Rajabi to death under the excuse of “waging war against God.”

These unfair punishments prompted the reaction of Iranian activists on social media. Reminding the fate of 13-year-old Romina Ashrafi, who had been beheaded by his father, an activist wrote, “In Iran, you can behead your daughter with impunity, but you will be punished to death for drinking alcohol.”

Another activist mentioned the ayatollahs’ four decades of bloody suppression, and questioned, “Officials executed a man for drinking alcohol, what is the sentence for those who are drinking the people’s blood for forty and some years?”

Many others reminded officials’ children and Iran’s lobbies and apologists in the United States and European countries who enjoy civil freedoms but whitewash the ayatollahs’ crimes inside Iran.

The growing tension in society is causing worries among senior Iranian officials. On July 9, Health Ministry Saeed Namaki expressed his concerns over the society’s readiness for a new round of protests. “We receive security reports, and the people’s upheaval due to poverty is a serious issue,” Namaki said. In this respect, the government forecasts nationwide protests in the coming months and severely attempts to dampen public anger with either hollow promises and remarks or intensification of oppressive measures.

However, history shows that as authoritarians exert more pressure on society, they will receive a tougher response.