Iran's Fars News Agency has published a sound recording of General Qassem Soleimani's brother saying his family will forgive the young man who was arrested for tearing a banner with Soleimani's picture just a few days after mass funeral processions were held to honor the general killed by an American drone strike on January 3.
In a press conference earlier on Wednesday the Police Chief of Tehran Brigadier General Hossein Rahimi had said that the person who had "disrespected General Soleimani's image" had been identified and arrested by the police.
Protesters in Tehran and other cities pulled down and tore posters and banners with Soleimani's pictures in many places. Videos of these incidents went viral on social media and even Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei in his latest public speech on January 17 referred to "the few hundred who insulted the image of General Soleimani" and compared their number to "the million-strong crowd in the streets" during his funeral.
The Tehran police chief also said the person detained for tearing the banner was a minor and had "confessed that he committed the crime because he had been persuaded by social media propaganda". He was freed on bail after preliminary investigations, the Police Chief said.
In the sound recording published by Revolutionary Guard-affiliated Fars News Agency, Soleimani's brother Sohrab said his brother never meant anyone to be hurt on his account. He called on the Police and the Judiciary not to pursue the matter further.
"As his family, we will forego our legal rights, although this is people's right too," Sohrab Soleimani said and added that he was meeting the young man the next day and wanted to tell him that his brother loved young people. "He is very young, didn't mean anything and did that under emotional circumstances so he can definitely be forgiven".
The protests days after Soleimani's burial took away the opportunity from the Islamic Republic to leverage what it saw as public support during the funeral. On January 11 and 12 thousands marched in Tehran and other cities chanting harsh slogans against Khamenei.