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"Religious Expert" Advocates Torturing Protesters On State Television

Iran -- Abolfazl Bahrampur, translator and commentator of Quran in Iranian official Radio and Television.

A guest speaker in a program aired by Iran's state-run television on Tuesday has said that those who were arrested in the recent anti-government protests must be punished by cutting their hands and feet in public and being exiled to give a lesson to others.

Abolfazl Bahrampour who was introduced as a "religious expert" made his notorious remarks on "Eastern Sun", a daily program on Channel One of the state-run television (IRIB), which according to itswebsite is dedicated to "elucidation of Islam and its application in social life".

Bahrampour recommended hanging the protesters or maiming them by "cutting them into pieces, right hand together with the left leg" and then releasing them into the society and declared that those who had participated in the protests should be "exiled to a broken ship in the middle of the sea and live there until they die".

Bahrampour claimed that the punishments he recommended were based on Quranic verses so nobody could "find fault with him" for his statements and said "killing" those who take up arms against Islam as mentioned in verse 33 of Ma'idah chapter of the Quran should be interpreted as "torturing them to death".

The brutal punishments recommended by Bahrampour on the state-run television have caused an uproar on social media. Even the Islamic Republic News Agency, the official mouthpiece of the administration, quoted Ayatollah Kazem Qazizadeh, a teacher of the Qom Seminary, as saying that the Quranic verse quoted by Bahrampour did not apply to "any of the groups [of people] who took part in the recent protests on the streets" and his interpretation was "completely incorrect".

"Mr Bahrampour becomes the IRIB's favorite Quranic expert while others such as Hojjat ol-Eslam Naqavian and Hojjat ol-Eslam Seyed Hamid Hosseini are banned from appearing on the channel, isn't that curious?" Mohammad-Reza Zaeri, a well-known cleric and journalist, tweeted.

According to Amnesty International at least 143 protesters were killed in the protests which initially started on November 15 against a gasoline price hike and quickly truend into full-blown anti-Islamic republic unrest. Thousands of protesters have been arrested but Iranian officials have not officially announced the number of the dead and arrested.