Following the executions of two political prisons charged with heretics, “Moharebeh,” International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran asked Abdolfattah Soltani, prominent Iranian attorney and member of Center for Defense of Human Rights, what types of heresy suspects should receive the death sentence according to Iranian laws?

Soltani replied: “Moharebeh laws in Sharia are rendered on the condition that the individual engages in armed activities. This has been explicitly explained in all religious reference books. In Articles 86 and 89 of Iran’s Islamic Punitive Laws, there are several conditions set for this. For example it has been expressed that if a group is formed for armed confrontation–meaning that the group’s policy is one of armed confrontation–members and supporters of this group who have participated toward that armed group’s goals, may also be moharebs. This means that the individual must either have engaged in armed confrontation or he must have been a supporter or a member of an armed group and must have committed effective [deliberate] actions on behalf of that organization. If these conditions are not met, moharebeh is meaningless.”

Mohammad Amin Valian, one of the protesters, has been convicted of moharebeh because during the post-elections gatherings and protests he threw stones. We asked Soltani whether such an action can bring the moharebeh conviction?

He said: “Absolutely not! If the arrested individual is a member or a supporter of an armed group, or if he commits actions on behalf of that armed group, the law can treat him as a mohareb. When an ordinary individual who breaks a window or vandalizes or injures another person for whatever reason, including getting angry or going too far in his conduct, the law should confront him and punish him, but these actions do not constitute moharebeh.”