A poetry reciter in Iran has received a six-month prison sentence for reciting a poem, which mentioned corruption, discrimination abusing power and stealing public funds.
Hossein Jannati, who once even recited a poem in the presence of Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei was charged with “propaganda against the regime”, and a higher court confirmed the verdict on October 5.
In a post on Instagram Mr. Jannati said he will always recite poems against vices such as “oppression, injustice, abuse of power and religion”. He added that if security organs and judges consider these vices related to the regime, then he is not responsible. The verdict against him stemmed from a poetry recitation at the university of Isfahan.
Poetry has a special place in Iran’s cultural heritage, which boasts great medieval poets such as Omar Khayyam, Hafiz and Molavi; well-known worldwide. Poetry reciters are respected cultural figures and Jannati himself is a sonneteer.
In his Instagram post he says that when he informed his father about the verdict, he told him “God is greater than the Sultan”; a possible reference to the current autocratic government in the country.