Artist and champion of inter-religious dialogue ‘sentenced to death’

Artist and champion of inter-religious dialogue ‘sentenced to death’

Mehdi Bahman with an artwork he presented to representatives of different minority faiths. (Photo: Twitter @FSeifikaran)

An Iranian artist and author who once donated an illustrated copy of the Psalms to families of the victims of 9/11 has reportedly been sentenced to death for “spying for foreign countries”.

Mehdi Bahman, who also gave an illustrated copy of the Book of Ezra to the people of Israel “in the name of friendship”, was tried on Christmas Eve by Branch 28 of the Revolutionary Court of Tehran, according to Radio Zamaneh.

“Detailed information about Mehdi Bahman’s charges is not yet available,” the report stated, “but according to an informed source, he has been sentenced to death on charges of ‘spying for foreign countries’.”

Mr Bahman was reportedly denied access to a lawyer during the court hearing, and has only been permitted one visit from family members since he was arrested in October. 

He is being held in Ward 209 of Evin Prison, which is reserved for political prisoners.

Journalist Farzad Seifikaran added on Twitter that it was “because of his peaceful activities at the international level” that Mr Bahman was previously summoned, in 2009, by a special clerical court, interrogated for three days, and pressured to record a video confession.

The artist is renowned for his efforts to foster inter-religious dialogue; in 2016 he presented copies of another artwork to representatives of Christian, Jewish, Baha’i, Zoroastrian, Yarsan and Mandaean religious minorities.

The artwork he created after 9/11 is now housed in the US Congress.

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