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Iran Clerics Denounce "Foolish" Executions of Protesters, A Rare Critique Of Regime

In an unusual challenge to Iran's senior leaders from Shia clerics in the country, a group of theologians and jurists in Qom say the state has been incompetent and had no right to execute protesters. At least two Iranian demonstrators have been executed this month, with the latest publicly hanged on a crane.

Photo of an Iranian cleric speaking on the phone in Qom, Iran

Iranian clerics in Qom, Iran


TEHRAN — Following the recent hangings of at least two Iranian detainees charged with attacking state agents during Iran's ongoing mass protests, a group of well-known Shia clerics have publicly challenged the validity of the capital charges cited by prosecutors and the state's right to execute protesters.

The objections were raised by the Assembly of Qom Seminary Teachers and Researchers, a clerical grouping of reformist clerics well-respected among Muslim leaders even if they have little direct sway over the leadership. They questioned the very legal basis of the death sentences the state is keen to mete out with the backing of the country's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

The statement published earlier this week, was a very rare show of support for ordinary Iranians from anyone associated with the regime. Parliament has taken the side of authorities, and the only dissenting clerics have been from Sunni-inhabited districts, where the regime has been particularly harsh with protesters.

Authorities recently decided to double down on the anti-state protests that have swept Iran since mid-September, initially to denounce murderous police practices but very soon targeting the regime itself.

Waging war on God

The Iranian judiciary has executed two protesters Mohsen Shekari and Majidreza Rahnavard over the past 10 days on charges of "waging war on God." This, alongside "spreading corruption in the land," are the accusations facing dozens of detainees, and are usually reserved for the most violent criminals, drug traffickers, rapists or pedophiles.

Nothing will bring you closer to God's wrath than unjust bloodletting.

Supposedly rooted in the dictates of The Quran, critics have denounced the charges as spurious tools to justify the Iranian regime's eager use of executions.

The Qom Seminary Teachers (Majma'e modarresin va mohaqqeqin-e howze-ye elmie-ye qom) declared "Nothing will bring you closer to God's wrath and vengeance than unjust bloodletting," citing a saying attributed to the fourth Islamic caliph Ali, a venerated figure among Shias including, presumably, Iran's authorities.

Their statement was apparently written before the execution of the second detainee.

\u200bUndated photo of executed protester Mohsen Shekari

Undated photo of executed protester Mohsen Shekari

Wikimedia Commons

No proven terror intention

The Assembly declared that "the majority" of Iranians had reasons to be angry including "poverty, inflation, misery and inefficiency in the running of state affairs," and the state should be listening. Hangings, it stated, would just fuel "anger and hatred" and indicated the state's "ignorance of the public mood [and] indifference to the country's best interests." In addition, it stated, the "judicial process in these trials has failed to convince public opinion."

The Assembly took issue with the charge of "waging war on God," which "consists of drawing weapons to frighten the people and fight God and the prophet (Muhammad), and requires evidence of an intention to sow terror."

In Article 279 of Iran's penal code, it observed, the charge is defined as an armed attack on people's lives, property or families, and intended "to intimidate them in such a way as to cause insecurity." Either way, the clerics stated, it did not apply to protesters "resisting the violence" of state agents.

People have an "undeniable right" to protest against rulers and policies "that seem unfair."

The declaration reiterated that in line with current laws, protesters could not be declared enemies of God if there was no proven "intention" to intimidate society (typically, terrorist acts) and especially if firearms were not used.

People, it stated, had an "undeniable right" to protest against rulers and policies "that seem unfair." The Assembly warned that harsh penalties and preposterous charges will fuel public contempt for religion. It urged the judiciary to choose leniency instead, and contemplate releasing jailed protesters.

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LGBTQ+ International: Gender Recognition Changes In Scotland, Same-Sex Ice-Skating — And Other News

Skate Canada has announced it is now allowing “two skaters” to compete in the ice dance and pairs figure skating competitions

Welcome to Worldcrunch’s LGBTQ+ International. We bring you up-to-speed each week on a topic you may follow closely at home, but can now see from different places and perspectives around the world. Discover the latest news on everything LGBTQ+ — from all corners of the planet. All in one smooth scroll!

✉️ You can receive our LGBTQ+ International roundup every week directly in your inbox. Subscribe here.

TW: This content may address topics and include references to violence that some may find distressing.

🌐 5 things to know right now

• Poland to veto discriminatory law: Polish President Andrzej Duda said he would veto a controversial bill that limits access to comprehensive sex ed and anti-discrimination classes in schools, after weeks of protests led by students and activists.

• Protests against homosexuality trial in Tunisia: Activists gathered on Dec. 19 in front of a court in Kairouan, Tunisia, to denounce the trial of six men prosecuted for homosexuality — which is punishable by up to three years in prison in the country.

• Scotland to introduce “gender recognition” changes: The Scottish government has introduced a bill to reform how transgender people can change the sex on their birth certificate, in favor of a self-declaration system that removes the need for a psychiatric diagnosis of gender dysphoria.

• Anti-LGBTQ+ Ghana churches received millions in Western aid: An exclusive investigation by CNN shows how over the past six years, some Western governments spent millions aiding churches in Ghana that have a long history of anti-LGBTQ+ propaganda and activities.

• Canada okays same-sex ice-skating teams to compete: Skate Canada, the national governing body for figure skating, has announced it is now allowing “two skaters” to compete in the ice dance and pairs figure skating competitions at the most elite levels of the sport.

🇦🇷🎧 From church choir to DJ icon: the singular rise of Anita B Queen

Alex Zani, writing for Buenos-Aires-based news agency Agencias Presentes, draws the portrait of Ana Belén Kim, daughter of conservative Korean immigrants to Argentina and a rising star in Latin America's electronic music club scene who's impossible to categorize.

In a world that insists on labels, Ana Belén Kim, also known as Anita B Queen, considers herself a "degenerate." That is: someone impossible to classify. The 26-year-old daughter of a Catholic mother and an Evangelical father, both of whom were Korean immigrants who came to Argentina in their early childhood, her musical career began at Cheil, the First Korean Presbyterian Church in the country.

Anita was still a teenager and was surprised to see so many instruments she could use. She taught herself how to play and was soon in charge of the youth band of the church. When she turned 18, her life turned upside down as she questioned her values and her sexuality.

“Imagine, a lifelong Christian girl, growing up in a small, closed, conservative and orthodox Korean community, trying to understand what she was feeling and trying to accept herself.” That year she left the church, withdrew from her peers, separated from her boyfriend, and began dating other women.

Photo of Anita B Queen with other musicians while in Madrid on Europe tour

Anita B Queen with other musicians on Europe Trip in Madrid — Photo: anitabqueen

"It was at that moment that I started working as a DJ, making electronic music, learning from local and foreign DJs who, without knowing it, were my mentors." It was a world commanded by men into which Anita stormed confidently, without asking for permission. "It's simple," she says. "Breaking through is a matter of attitude.”

Read the full story on Worldcrunch.com

👉 Otherwise

• LGBTQ Nation focuses on Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, the Russian composer of Swan Lake and Nutcracker fame, and how his being homosexual was carefully from Russian history.

• 76Crimes highlights the challenges transgender Pakistanis have to overcome today, faced with both a strong conservative Muslim society and a groundbreaking transgender rights law.

• “You've probably heard of the male gaze, but what exactly is the lesbian gaze?” asks Pride.

• T’is the season for queer couples to try to survive Christmas with the family ...

• Feeling nostalgic and looking to binge some good flicks for the holidays? Here’s a nice list of 17 Gay Period Dramas That Will Take You Back in Time.

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