Al-Monitor reports on the latest example of this verbal sparring, which has been focused on the death penalty allegedly given to a Saudi Shiite cleric who has led protests against repression by Sunni authorities. The cause of the cleric, Nimr al-Nimr, has been popularized in Iranian media, and Hossein Amir Abdollahian, Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister for Arab and African Affairs, declared that the political execution would “increase conflict in the Islamic world.”
However, if the execution of a member of a religious minority, or even a Shiite cleric, increases such conflict, then Abdollahian’s commentary acknowledges that Iran itself is responsible for a great deal of ongoing conflict. Iran is notorious for sentencing religious minorities to death on the basis of vague charges such as “waging war against God” or “spreading corruption.” Also, among its current list of political prisoners is a moderate Shiite cleric, Ayatollah Kazemeyni Boroujerdi, whose death sentence is undeniably at least as politically-motivated as Nimr’s.
And Boroujerdi is only one of hundreds of political prisoners held in Iranian jails. Some of the others are much more prominent in international circles, as is the case with Jason Rezaian, a Tehran correspondent for the Washington Post who was arrested on July 22, forced to confess to unspecified charges in September, and is still being held in isolation today.
IranWire on Thursday repeated the full story of Rezaian’s ordeal, and that of his wife Yeganeh Salehi, who was arrested alongside him. The stories are part of the site’s ongoing series profiling journalists who have been arrested in Iran for practicing their profession. IranWire suggests that both arrests were motivated by a desire to send a hardline message to the West, and to return to a policy of confrontation after the regime had briefly tolerated President Rouhani’s strategy of communicating openly with its traditional adversaries.