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Sunday, 29 July, 2001, 19:07 GMT 20:07 UK
New floggings in Iran
Iranian students demonstrate
Youth have got used to more freedoms under Khatami
By Iranian affairs analyst Sadeq Saba

A hardline court in Iran has ordered another group of young men to be flogged in public despite opposition from the reformist government of President Mohammad Khatami.

Five men were whipped in the western town of Boroujerd on Sunday on charges of public disorder and breaking shop windows.

In the past few weeks about 100 young men have been flogged in several incidents in Iranian towns.

The Iranian interior minister and pro-reform political organisations have condemned these severe punishments.

Public spectacle

The five young men were whipped in a busy square in Boroujerd.

They each received more than 70 lashes for public disorder offences.

Iran's President Mohammad Khatami
President Khatami does not control the judiciary
The head of the judiciary in the town said unemployment was the main cause of such behaviour.

He justified the use of public flogging against young offenders by saying it would make an example of them for others.

Dozens of young men have also been whipped in public in the capital, Tehran, mainly for drinking alcohol and chasing women.

This kind of punishment has rarely been carried out in Iran in recent years.

Youth concern

But its increasing use over the past weeks has created anxiety among the Iranian youth who have been enjoying more social freedoms since President Khatami came to power four years ago.

Reformists fear that the hardline conservative judiciary is ordering such punishments in an attempt to undermine Mr Khatami's credibility.

Interior Minister Abdolvahed Musavi Lari
Mr Lari warned of "serious consequences" for Iran
The Iranian pro-reform interior minister has recently said the whipping of people in public places had serious political and social consequences.

Other reformists have said such punishments hurt the country's image.

But hardliners blame Mr Khatami's tolerant policies for encouraging young people to defy religious rules.

Reports from Iran say most people disapprove public floggings.

Other severe punishments such as stoning of women for adultery and public hangings for various crimes have also been on the increase in recent months.

See also:

23 Jul 01 | Middle East
Iranian minister condemns floggings
16 Jul 01 | Middle East
Iran reformist jailed for six years
12 Jul 01 | Middle East
Iranian adulteress stoned to death
11 Jun 01 | Middle East
Poll boosts Khatami reform bid
11 Mar 01 | Middle East
Khatami: Iran must have democracy
20 Dec 00 | Country profiles
Country profile: Iran
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