Iran's president has criticized the flogging of a student
convicted of ridiculing him, saying high-profile political figures frequently criticize the government with impunity.
In comments posted on his presidential website on Tuesday Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
said that "when high-profile figures freely insult the government, I disapprove that a youth is flogged for insulting me."
Aref after the lashing (Screenshot)
Peyman Aref, a student of political science at Tehran University, was subjected to 74 lashes for sending an insulting letter to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. The sentence was carried out just before he was released from prison for anti-government political activity.
He was found guilty of spreading propaganda against the regime.
According to a report in the Guardian, Aref was lashed with his wife present in the room. "My crime was that I had written a letter to Ahmadinejad and reminded him what he had done to universities," he said.
Aref was most likely punished because he had refused to begin the letter with the formal greeting of 'Salam' as a sign of protest.
"Lashing people sentenced to various charges such as those caught drinking alcohol is common in Iran but political activists are usually lashed for ambiguous charges such as desecrating Islam or prophets," an Iranian journalist based in Tehran told the newspaper. "Lashing Aref for insulting Ahmadinejad is shocking and unprecedented."
Dudi Cohen contributed to the report