By JON GAMBRELL
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Iran hanged two men Monday convicted of blasphemy, authorities said, carrying out rare death sentences for the crime as executions surge across the Islamic Republic following months of unrest.
Iran remains one of the world’s top executioners, having put to death at least 203 prisoners since the start of this year alone, according to the Oslo-based group Iran Human Rights. But carrying out executions for blasphemy remains rare, as previous cases saw the sentences reduced by authorities.
The two men executed, Yousef Mehrad and Sadrollah Fazeli Zare, died at Arak Prison in central Iran. They had been arrested in May 2020, accused of being involved in a channel on the Telegram message app called “Critique of Superstition and Religion,” according to the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom. Both men faced months of solitary confinement and could not contact their families, the commission said.