Iranian Faces Charges For Saying Shi’ite Imam ‘Died’
Yet the text has apparently drawn criminal blasphemy charges over a reference to Shi’ite Islam’s Third Imam for Khoshhal, who has previously been a target of hard-line ire.
Meanwhile his newspaper, the reformist daily Ebtekar, has announced the termination of Khoshhal’s employment contract.
Without explicitly naming Khoshhal, Tehrani prosecutor Abbas Jafari Dolatabadi said on October 24 that a journalist would face prosecution for “pieces of content” insulting to Imam Husayn ibn Ali, a grandson of the Prophet Muhammad revered under Iran’s official religion, Shi’ite Islam.
A news agency affiliated with the Iranian Judiciary, Mizan, reported on October 25 that Khoshhal had been detained late the previous day “while trying to leave the country.” It said Khoshhal’s article had met with “many criticisms and protests” for referring to the “death” of Imam Husayn instead of using the clerical regime’s preferred phrasing, “martyrdom.”
Mizan reported that investigators determined that Khoshhal had also insulted religious figures on social media.
Khoshhal has not publicly reacted to the controversy, but his Twitter account appears to have been deleted.
Mirzan also quoted an unnamed senior editor at Ebtekar apologizing to any who were “hurt” or “angered” by the article, adding that the paper had ended its cooperation with Khoshhal.
The article now appears on Ebtekar’s website with the term “martyrdom” in reference to the Third Imam.
In it, Khoshhal warned Iranian pilgrims who journey on foot to Karbala to commemorate Husayn and his companions’ seventh-century deaths about the danger of preventable diseases along the way.
Tens of thousands of Iranians cross the border on foot each year for the so-called Arba’een Pilgrimage, which is among the world’s largest religious festivals, after a 40-day mourning period that follows Ashura. In all, 2 million Iranians were said to have taken part last year to pay homage to Husayn.
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