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Wednesday, 5 September, 2001, 16:13 GMT 17:13 UK
Mr Bean attackers face flogging
Iranian conservatives
Hardliners in Iran often object to western influences
An Iranian court has sentenced two members of a revolutionary group to flogging and jail terms for disrupting a performance by an Iranian version of the British comedy character Mr Bean.

The men were among 50 activists from the hardline Ansar-e Hezbollah party who burst into a theatre in the north-eastern city of Mashhad on 27 July, according to the official Iranian news agency, IRNA.

We will take action against any destructive groups

Judge Mohammad Shams-Gilani
The group disrupted the show, entitled Iran's Mr Bean, starring famous Iranian comic Hami Reza Mahisefat, beating their chests in a traditional Shi'a sign of disapproval, the agency reported.

Police had to be called to break up scuffles between the demonstrators and theatre-goers, in which seven people were hurt, IRNA said.

'No limits'

The leader of Ansar-e Hezbollah, Hamid Ostad, was sentenced to five months in jail and 25 lashes, while his accomplice, Ali-Reza Rezaie, was sentenced to 92 days in jail and 15 lashes, Judge Mohammad Shams-Gilani told IRNA.

"Both were tried for (the crime) of disrupting the social order," the judge was quoted as saying.

Judge Shams-Gilani said: "This group knows no limits and they do everything they like. We will take action against any destructive groups," the agency reported.

The judge told IRNA that police want to question 10 other members of Ansar-e Hezbollah in connection with the case.

Ostad and Rezaie have 20 days in which to appeal against their sentences, he said.

See also:

31 Aug 01 | Middle East
Iran riot prompts 150 arrests
22 Apr 01 | Middle East
Iran court sentences 100 rioters
13 Nov 00 | Middle East
Iran riots blamed on hardliners
28 Aug 00 | Middle East
Policeman dead in Iran unrest
11 Jul 00 | Middle East
Six days that shook Iran
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