A former psychologist was executed in Iran of heresy after spending eight years in prison, a human rights group said on Tuesday. The execution is the most recent example of what activists feel is a troubling rise in the use of the death penalty in Iran.
The Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) said that Mohsen Amir Aslani was hanged to death in a prison near the city Karaj on September 24th for “corruption on earth and heresy in religion”.
According to Iranian opposition news sites, the 37-year-old had given religious classes in which he taught a new interpretation of the Quran. He was also accused of insulting Prophet Jonah – the Iran Wire reported that he told one of his classes that Jonah couldn’t have emerged from a whale’s belly, and the statement led to the charges against him.
UN chief Ban Ki-moon has recently expressed fears over the reported increase in death sentences in the Islamic Republic; according to rights group Amnesty International, Iran is only second to China in the use of the death penalty as punishment. Human rights activists fear that hardliners who oppose moderate President Hassan Rouhani and his diplomacy with the West regarding Iran’s nuclear program are pushing the increase in executions to weaken Rouhani.
According to official figures, Iran had executed 373 people in 2013. However, Cornell University’s Deathpenaltyworldwide.org database reports that around 624 to 727 last year, up from the 314 to 580 executed in 2012. The Iran Human Rights Documentation Centre says that 531 people were executed in Iran in 531.
Last Thursday, eighteen Nobel laureates wrote an open letter to Ali Khamenei, Iran’s Supreme Leader, and called for the “immediate and unconditional” release of Iranian physicist Omid Kokabee. Kokabee was arrested on a visit to Iran in 2011 and was charged with “communicating with a hostile government” and receiving “illegitimate funds”; he was studying in the US at the time.
Source: The Arab Democrat
Rita Yahan Farouz (ehem. Rita Kleinstein, hebräisch ריטה; * 24. März 1962 als Rita Yahan Farouz (Pers ریتا جہان فروز ) in Teheran, Iran) ist eine erfolgreiche israelische Sängerin. Ihre Familie stammt ursprünglich aus dem Iran und wanderte 1970 nach Israel aus.
1986 scheiterte Rita bei der israelischen Vorentscheidung zum Eurovision Song Contest. 1990 gewann sie die Vorentscheidung mit dem Lied Shara Barekhovot(dt.: „Singt in den Straßen“) und nahm so als Vertreterin Israels in Zagreb teil. Sie erreichte jedoch nur den 18. Platz bei 22 Teilnehmern.
Rita war verheiratet mit dem israelischen Musiker Rami Kleinstein. Die beiden haben zwei Töchter: Meshi und Noam. Im September 2008 gab das Paar seine Trennung bekannt.
Am 22. Juni 2011 erschien ihre neue persische Single, Shane.
Am 5. März 2013 sang sie vor der Generalversammlung der Vereinten Nationen in persischer, englischer und hebräischer Sprache.
Israel’s Rita Rocks the U.N. – a important Document of peace and freedom between israel and iranian peoples
Israeli singer Rita’s special surrealistic concert at the UN General Assembly, 5 March 2013, in the United Nations General Assembly Hall.
UN Ambassador Prosor has pulled off one of the most unusual diplomatic achievements ever: a full-fledged UN-sponsored Farsi-Hebrew musical event full of goodwill and sympathy
By Chemi Shalev | March 6, 2013 | 9:50 AM
Inside the hall of the General Assembly at the United Nations building in New York, it seemed at times that either the messiah had arrived or the world had turned inside-out Bizarro, like in the Superman comics: Rita, one of Israel’s most popular performers, was singing in Farsi and Hebrew; Israelis were dancing in the aisles: diplomats from around the world were clapping and begging for more; Israeli Ambassador Ron Prosor was the hero of the day; Secretary General Ban Ki Moon said „shalom“ and General Assembly President Vuk Jeremic, it turned out, hails from a family of Righteous Gentiles.
It was, without a doubt, a night to remember, a memory to cherish, an Israeli-made spectacle the likes of which hadn’t been seen in the General Assembly since Ambassador Herzog tore apart that Zionism is Racism resolution in 1975. Only this time, it was the other way around: „Why is this night different than all other nights?“ an elated and season conscious Prosor asked me, „Because on this night, contrary to all previous nights, the United Nations is united behind Israel and resides under the wings of Rita.“
The wings that Prosor was referring to come from Haim Bialik’s song „Hachnisini Tahat Knafech“ — „Under Your Wing“ — a popular Israeli song which was featured in Rita’s „Tunes for Peace“ concert performed at UN headquarters Tuesday night. The famous platform underneath the giant olive-colored UN symbol was turned into a rock concert stage, including a smoke machine, strobe lights, and a rocking and raucous 9-piece ensemble that played Persian-Israeli music with light touches of Klezmer to boot.
The auditorium, which for most Israelis and Diaspora Jews has come to be associated with harsh anti-Israeli rhetoric, cold diplomatic isolation, and humiliating political defeats at the hands of the „automatic majority,“ suddenly had a warm ambiance and an admiring audience comprised of Iranian expatriates, Israeli diplomats, UN employees, and representatives of 140 UN delegations who begged their Israeli colleagues for invitations to the show and to the experience.
Ban Ki Moon opened the evening with the word „shalom“ and described Rita as „a cultural ambassador“. Then came Jeremic, who announced that he would soon be the first sitting President of the General Assembly to visit Israel, during which he will participate in a Yad Vashem ceremony in which members of his grandmother’s family in Belgrade would be recognized as „Righteous Among the Gentiles“ for saving Jews during the Holocaust.
Then, Introducing Rita, Prosor said „I always hoped that I would one day be the opening act for Rita at a major venue in New York City. Although, I’ll admit, I never expected that it would be in the form of the Three Tenors: „Ban, Prosor, and Jeremic.“
„It is our sincere hope that this musical evening will echo from New York to the hearts and minds of people throughout Israel and Iran,“ Prosor added, and then asked Rita to „rock the house“, which she did.
The popular Israeli singer gave a ten song rendition that included five songs in Farsi, four in Hebrew and one — „Time for Peace“ — in English. She delighted the audience with stories of her childhood in Tehran, about her mother’s love for music, and about her own wish to spread the love far and wide between her birthplace and her homeland. Her strong voice reverberated in the hall which had never seen such a joyous bunch of Israelis, including enthusiastic Rita fans who tried to get the UN diplomats to dance with them near the stage and down the aisles, though that proved a bridge too long for the usually stiff and formal envoys.