Iranian imprisoned spiritual healer Mohammad Ali Taheri has been sentenced to execution, one of his lawyers, Zeynab Taheri, announced on August 27.
The Erfan Telegram channel, run by Taheri’s followers, also published the news and posted a copy of what is reportedly the official announcement by Taheri’s lawyer.
Meanwhile, another member of Taheri’s defense team, Mahmoud Alizadeh-Tabatabaei, told the Iranian Labor News Agency (ILNA) that his client was “apparently” sentenced to execution.
Alizadeh-Tabatabaei said he had not referred to the court to receive the sentence since “September 13 is Taheri’s daughter’s wedding day.”
“According to the law, the sentence has to be passed on to us, and we are not going to the court to receive the sentence,” he said.
At the same time, a number of Iranian human rights organizations, journalists, and activists have condemned Taheri’s death sentence on social media.
Twitter user "Dast-e Posht-e Parde" [lit. hand behind the curtain: secret plotter] wrote, “I don’t know Taheri, nor does mysticism have any value for me. But beware that those who execute Taheri for his beliefs today will put the noose around our necks tomorrow.”
Iranian journalist Mohammad Javad Akbarin blasted those behind the sentence, saying, “Finally they pronounced Taheri’s shameful death sentence. It’s incredible that the Supreme Court quashes the sentence yet the revolution court imposes it all of a sudden.”
Taheri, 61, established an organization under the name of Erfan-e Halqeh, or Circle of Mysticism, in 2001, where he used to practice Iranian supplementary medicine, faith healing, and scientology.
He was initially allowed to preach, practice, and teach in public, and his classes and healing sessions were attended by hundreds of people from all walks of life, including commanders from the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps and government officials. Several of his books were published with permission from the Culture and Islamic Guidance Ministry.
Then Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei stepped in, warning against what he branded as “false mysticism that might lure people away from Islam.”
Taheri was arrested in 2010 but later released after spending 67 days in solitary confinement. He was rearrested in 2011, reportedly held in solitary confinement, and convicted on several charges, including acting against Iran's national security, blasphemy, and touching the wrists of unrelated female patients, which is forbidden in Islam.
Meanwhile, Khamenei’s allies labeled the Circle of Mysticism a “deviant sect” while claiming Taheri had amassed an “illicit” fortune through his teachings.
Taheri and his followers have repeatedly dismissed these allegations as false and baseless.