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Protesters insulting religious sanctities can be sentenced to death, Iran’s judiciary said on Monday, citing Islamic law codified by the mullahs’ regime.

Massoud Setayeshi, the judiciary spokesman, told government news site IRNA that according to Iran’s version of Islamic law, Article 513, “Those who insult Islamic sanctities or its saints” can be sentenced. and receive the death penalty. The principle quoted is ‘Sab Al-Nabi’ or the insult to the Prophet.

The Islamic Republic’s judiciary, controlled by Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, has already sentenced at least six protesters to death and it is unclear whether any of them have been charged with insulting religious sanctities. The political trials of dissidents take place behind closed doors without any transparency.

Setayeshi has defended beliefs arguing that existing law requires it, which may inflame protesters, who demand a secular form of government and reject the dictates of the mullahs’ regime.

The spokesperson also argued that insulting the flag and anthem of the Islamic Republic is also punishable. He claimed that in many Western countries, laws exist to punish those who desecrate the national flag or reject the national anthem.

Although in some democratic countries such as France desecration of the flag carries a fine, there are independent courts and due process to ensure those accused receive a fair trial, unlike in Iran where dissidents cannot choose their own lawyers and judges and prosecutors take orders from judicial and intelligence organizations.