Iran's Muslims are forbidden to drink alcohol, a crime punishable by 80 blows. But the news that the controversial punishment was inflicted more than a decade ago on a man who drank at a wedding party has confused a prominent legal personality.
Iranian state media have reported that a man identified as MR only was publicly flogged on July 10 in the eastern city of Kashmar. The sentence served a term of imprisonment that MR found guilty about drinking alcohol at a wedding party about 10 years ago, when he was 14 or 15 years old.
According to the state Young journalist clubThe receptionist took a tragic turn when a dispute among partygoers resulted in the death of a 17-year-old boy. Kashmar prosecutors reportedly said that M. R. was not involved in the violence.
Iran's punishable punishment – the Islamic Republic's Criminal Code states that the punishment for drinking alcohol by a Muslim is 80 lashes, although Christians and religious minorities are exempted from punishment – has always been a point of contention with human rights groups. But this case has made Amnesty International disbelieving.
In a July 11 report, the watchdog condemned the flogging in Kashmar as "another horrible example of the Iranian authorities' twisted priorities" and a "shocking disregard for fundamental human rights."
"Nobody, regardless of age, should be flogged," the report cited Philip Luther, the research and advocacy director of Amnesty International for the Middle East and North Africa. "That a child was prosecuted for drinking alcohol and sentenced to 80 lashes."
ON Photo that was accompanied Amnesty International's report showed an injured and battered man tied to a tree lashed by a person in a black uniform and a ski mask. Viewers can be seen in the background.
When Amnesty International was contacted on July 12, he could not independently confirm that the picture of the flogging was in Kashmar, and said that the photo came from Iranian coverage of the incident.
Who is whipped in Iran?
The flogging has thrown new light on many years of practice.
Iran practices flogging and other internationally prohibited corporal punishment such as amputation, stoning and blinding.
According to Iranian criminal laws, more than 100 crimes are punishable by flogging. These include theft, fraud, alcohol consumption or sale, as well as moral offenses such as public kisses, homosexual acts and sexual relationships between unmarried men and women.
Whipping sets for adultery and blasphemy are considered lenient.
During the holy Muslim month of Ramadan, it is not uncommon for Iranians to be sentenced to eating during Lent.
The Iranian courts have also condemned some journalists for flogging their work.
Children are freed from flogging, women are not.
Iranian human rights activists estimate that Iranian courts impose hundreds of flogging penalties every year and several dozen are executed.
On the popular Facebook page My Stealthy Freedom, there are reports and photos of several Iranian women who were whipped.
According to a contributionA 28-year-old woman from Mashhad City was flogged 80 times in 2016 for attending a birthday party and drinking alcohol in males. The woman described it as a terrible experience and the worst day of her life: "I was beaten while my feet were chained, and my hands were tied up."
in the another 2016 postThe Facebook page released a report from a woman identified only by her first name, Reyhaneh, who claims she was flogged 140 times for having a boyfriend. The punishment made it impossible for Reyhaneh to sit properly at work the next day. "My back was completely covered in dark blue spots," she wrote.
The woman says the whipping left her and her family – she is now married to the friend she was punished for – and was deeply traumatized. "While I was being whipped, my only brother, who was 10 years older than me and had heart problems, was next door, and out of helplessness knocked repeatedly at the door of the room where I was whipped and cried uncontrollably," Reyhaneh wrote.
Each of the women's post is accompanied with photos of the naked backs that are wounded and squeezed after the apparent floggings. RFE / RL could not verify the authenticity of the photos independently.
Right-wing extremists say that many people need hospital treatment after flogging and that some cases end in death.
International organizations have repeatedly called on Iran to ban this practice, but the country has so far ignored the convictions.