Iranian cleric Hojjatoleslam MirSadegh Honarvar Shojai has been sentenced to four years in prison, 500 lashes and an $8,000 fine.
Radio Zamaneh reports that Honarvar Shojai, a senior member of the clergy and a teacher at the Qom seminary, is a critic of the concept of velayat faqih, which means leadership under one chief cleric, the position currently held by Ayatollah Khamenei.
Honarvar Shojai reportedly supports a civil role for the clergy as opposed to a political one. The court has ordered him defrocked for his beliefs.
However, Honarvar Shojai has challenged the ruling, saying the government cannot defrock him because it is not involved in the process of frocking the clergy, which is done with the approval of senior clergy members once a subject has achieved a degree of judgement.
Honarvar Shojai was arrested in November 2010, accused of “espionage and collaboration with the German embassy in Tehran through projects aimed a europeanizing Islam and opposition to the theological bases of Islam and propaganda activities and activities against national security as well as defaming the regime and the clergy.”
He has been held in Evin Prison and put under heavy pressure to submit to a so-called televised confession. He has also been denied special medication for his epilepsy.
He reportedly holds various classes in section 350 of Evin Prison, the section where political prisoners are held.
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