FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 16, 2019
USCIRF Vice Chair Gayle Manchin Calls on Iran to Cease Harassment and Threats Against Prisoner of Conscience Mohammad Ali Taheri
WASHINGTON, DC – The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) today called on the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps of Iran (IRGC) to stop harassing and threatening Religious Prisoner of Conscience Mohammad Ali Taheri and his family. Despite his release from prison in April, the IRGC has prevented Mr. Taheri from leaving his house, has monitored him constantly, has forbidden Mr. Taheri and his lawyer from discussing his religious beliefs, and has issued statements critical of his ideas. They also have threatened him with re-imprisonment, physical harm to both him and his family, and even death.
“Iran must stop terrorizing Mr. Taheri, his followers, and his family, and respect their rights under international law,” said USCIRF Vice Chair Gayle Manchin, who advocates for Mr. Taheri through USCIRF’s Religious Prisoners of Conscience Project. “Threats against Mr. Taheri and his family and followers, despite Mr. Taheri’s release from prison, are deeply concerning. Iran’s government must guarantee freedom of religion and belief for all its citizens.”
Mohammad Ali Taheri is the founder of the Erfan Halgheh spiritual movement. In 2011, he was arrested and tried for “touching the wrists of female patients” and “blasphemy,” among other charges. On October 30, 2011, he was sentenced to 74 lashes, a fine and imprisonment. In 2015 and 2017, Mr. Taheri was sentenced to death for “corruption on earth.” After Iran’s Supreme Court overturned his death sentences in March 2018, a lower court sentenced him to a five-year sentence on the same charges. He was released from prison on April 23, 2019, but remains confined to his house and under surveillance.
The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom is an independent, bipartisan federal government entity established by the U.S. Congress to monitor, analyze and report on threats to religious freedom abroad. USCIRF makes foreign policy recommendations to the President, the Secretary of State and Congress intended to deter religious persecution and promote freedom of religion and belief. To interview a Commissioner, please contact USCIRF at Media@USCIRF.gov or Kellie Boyle at firstname.lastname@example.org or +1-703-898-6554.