The Islamic Republic of Iran, of course, doesn’t recognize the freedom of speech. This latest move to “add an article to the Islamic Penal Code that would criminalize ‘expressing opinions on social networks’“ is merely a formality and a public statement of warning. Iran already harshly penalizes dissenters who oppose Sharia. The current protests began over the killing of Mahsa Amini after she was arrested for not wearing her hijab properly. She was murdered by Iran’s morality police for violating the Islamic regime’s mandatory hijab law, which is dictated by Qur’an 24:31 and 33:59. Sham trials and random, wanton executions are notorious in Iran. Any offense to the regime is already inherently criminalized.
Mosa Barzin Khalifelou, IranWire’s legal advisor, stated that Iranian law currently stipulates that “commenting on the Internet is not considered a crime as long as it does not insult a person or promote violence.” That sounds fine, but in reality, Islamic regime thugs are the ones who decide which comments would be “insulting” or “promote violence.” We are now even experiencing a whiff of this kind of oppression in Western countries: all too often, some Leftist or Islamic supremacist decides in a civil court or kangaroo court that someone’s speech has crossed a line, a line that they alone determine.
Given the protests in Iran since mid-September, the Islamic regime is nervous and now formally cracking down on dissent, taking aim in particular at those with influential platforms.
“Islamic Republic Of Iran To Criminalize Comments On Social Networks,” by Maryam Dehkordi, Iran Wire, January 31, 2023:
The Iranian parliament plans to add an article to the Islamic Penal Code that would criminalize “expressing opinions on social networks,” state media reported, in an attempt to further limit freedom of speech.
The main targets of the proposed Article 512 are influential people in Iran.
The draft legislation says that people who hold “a social, political, scientific and cultural position” and use social media to comment on issues that “require” an official response will be sentenced to prison if their posts get “widespread feedback” and “disrupt public order.”
The head of parliament’s Judicial Commission has said that Article 512 is aimed at dealing with “lies” and that its provisions are still under review.
A growing number of celebrities have used their social media accounts to voice support for protests that have swept Iran for more than four months and criticize the Islamic Republic’s brutal response to the wave of public anger.
Some of these celebrities have been thrown behind bars, interrogated and had their passports confiscated, with Islamic Republic officials accusing them of “fanning the flames of the riots.”
Meanwhile, Iranian authorities have heavily disrupted Internet access in large parts of the country and blocked or periodically disrupted access to social media and messaging platforms to quash the protest movement.
Mosa Barzin Khalifelou, IranWire’s legal advisor, says that, according to Iran’s laws, “commenting on the Internet is not considered a crime as long as it does not insult a person or promote violence.”
“But like many other things, there is a big difference between what is written in the law and what happens in practice,” Khalifelou adds.
Charges such as “insulting sacred things,” which can include expressing opinions about security officers or the prophet of Islam, is punishable by Iran’s legal system.