Iran Sentences New Age Leader to Death

Mohammed Ali Taheri
Mohammed Ali Taheri (Courtesy)

New Agers don’t quite fit in with “normative” society, but in the West they are often perceived as harmless eccentrics who want to share peace and love with all of mankind.

So too in Iran. Except that in the Islamic Republic, New Agers are not regarded as harmless by the ayatollahs. They see them as blasphemers who twist Islam. While the Iranian public seemingly accepts New-Age Shiites, the government decided to crack down, sentencing to death their leader Mohammed Ali Taheri.

Who is Ali Taheri?

  • Taheri is an Iranian researcher on alternative medicine.
  • He introduced a system of mysticism known as Erfan Keyhani or circle of unity. Tahrei created his Circle of Unity Institute 11 years ago.
  • His system relies on healing, psychoanalysis and inter-universalism.
  • Middle-class students were his main followers and his message quickly spread (Arabic link) throughout the country.
  • Taheri was honored by Iranian national TV after he was awarded two honorary degrees.
  • Iranian religious authorities rejected his notions, seeing it as a challenge to traditional Muslim doctrines. Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei warned Iranians against joining this “cult.”
  • In 2010, Iran arrested Taheri for “acting against national security.” He was released after being in solitary confinement for 67 days.
  • In 2011, he was sentenced to a five-year jail term for blasphemy, lashes for touching female patients and fined for a variety of other charges.
  • In 2015, he was sentenced to death for creating his cult. That ruling was overturned by an appeals court.
  • In August 2017, he was once again sentenced to death.
  • Supporters allege he was tortured to death in prison and the new verdict is merely a cover up.

Taheri’s mother appealed for his release in this video:

 

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RM
Ran Meir
Ran Meir is Clarion Project's Arab affairs analyst.