A new law has been passed by the Iranian parliament extending use of the death penalty to online crimes. Previously, only people charged with insulting Islam or drug trafficking had been sentenced to death. In accordance with the new law, bloggers and website editors can be sentenced to death for crimes such as "promoting corruption", "prostitution" and "apostasy" (the lattermost is, of course, punishable by death in Islamic law itself).
Blogging about subjects such as minority rights and freedom of speech and religion has already carried a risk. In 2005, blogger Mojtaba Saminejad was tried before a local court in Teheran charged with "insulting the prophets" (note the plural, ie Abraham, Moses and Christ as well as Muhammad, an attempt to make the law "PC", perhaps?), which carries the death penalty. He was eventually acquitted. Last year, two Kurdish bloggers (anti-Kurdish racism is quite widespread in Iran) were sentenced to death on charges of (ahem) "subversive activities against national security, spying and separatist propaganda".
McCarthyism with an Iranian face.
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