Tehran, Oct 28: In a latest harsh punishment meted out against writers, artists in Iran, two poets have been given 99 lashes each for shaking hands with the people of opposite sex, media reported on Wednesday.
A Tehran Revolutionary Court has sentenced the poets Fatemeh Ekhtesari and Mehdi Moosavi to 9 years and 6 months and 99 lashes, and 11 years and 99 lashes, respectively, on charges of "insulting the sacred" for the social criticism expressed in their poetry.
The flogging sentences were a result of the charge of "illegitimate sexual relationship short of adultery," for shaking hands with strangers (a person of the opposite sex who is not one's immediate kin or spouse), according to Amir Raeesian, the lawyer representing Ms. Ekhtesari and Mr. Moosavi, who spoke with the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran.
"These sentences show that repression in Iran is intensifying," said Hadi Ghaemi, executive director of the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran. "Hardliners aren't just going after political activists, they are determined to stamp out any social or cultural expression with which they disagree," said a statement issued by Iran Human Rights on October 14.
A filmmaker, Kayvan Karimi, was recently sentenced to six years in prison and 223 lashes after similar charges were levelled against him.