MichNews.com, Nov. 8, 2002
By Pastor Grant Swank, Jr.
Recent events in Tehran, Iran, surely will not endear themselves to American hearts. They certainly should not advance Islam as a peace religion. However, they should help Americans understand all the more clearly how certain Islamic leaders can pronounce death sentences upon Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell and Franklin Graham.
Disheartening some Iranian reformists, a court put the death sentence to Hashem Aghajari, a well-known scholar and close ally to President Mohammad Khatami.
Why? Because the scholar is accused of insulting Prophet Muhammad and questioning the hard-line interpretation of Islam. Aghajari spoke publicly in June in a western city of Hamedan, according to his attorney, Salch Nikhakht.
The lawyer stated that his client, a spokesman for the Islamic Revolution Mujahedeen Organization, was also sentenced to 74 lashes, prohibited from teaching for 10 years and exiled for eight years to three remote Iranian cities.
The severe sentences were issued to make an example of Aghajari, a history professor at Tarbiat-e-Modarres University in Tehran. He is in custody of Hamedan and was told of the verdict on November 6.
The lawyer emphasized that his client did not insult Islam’s prophet. “This verdict is nothing but a ruling against Iran’s national interests,” he stated.
Aghajari has been a respected leader in the reformist political party.