Jan 9, 2023, 11:26am EST
Middle East

Iranians protested outside a prison demanding to stop the executions of two men


Sign up for Semafor Flagship: The daily global news briefing you can trust. Read it now.

Title icon

The News

Iranian protesters on Sunday and Monday gathered outside a prison northwest of Tehran demanding authorities to halt the rumored executions of Mohammad Ghobadlu and Mohamad Broghani, two young men found guilty of allegedly running over and killing a police officer during protests in November.

Footage on social media showed demonstrators gathering outside Rajaei-Shahr prison after rumors began circulating that the two men had been put into solitary confinement -- the last step before execution in Iran.

Protesters appeared to temporarily stop traffic around the complex. At one point, a woman identified by local journalists as Ghobadlu’s mother reportedly made an impassioned plea to authorities at the prison.

Activists later claimed that the demonstrations delayed the executions of the two men, but Semafor has not been able to independently verify these claims.

Title icon

Know More

Iran has executed at least four men involved in the anti-regime protests that began in September. Two of them were executed on Saturday for allegedly killing a paramilitary force member. All men were tried quickly behind closed doors. Activists say that some are denied the right to an attorney, while some lawyers said that the executions were carried out so hastily, there was no time for legal action.


On Monday, three other men were sentenced to death for ”waging war against God" over their alleged role in the deaths of three militia members. So far, per some estimates, 17 people have been sentenced to death in relation to the ongoing protests.

Activists say that over 19,000 protesters have been arrested and more than 500 killed in the regime’s crackdown on demonstrations.

Title icon

Step Back

Protests have shaken the Iranian regime since 22-year-old Masha Amini died in police custody after being arrested by Iran’s morality police for not properly wearing her hijab.

The protests have evolved from demanding greater respect for women to a broader challenge to the Islamic Republic.

The Supreme Court on Cultural Revolution has said it will not relax rules on the hijab, The Guardian reported.


“Covering up causes a woman to be recognized in society by her thoughts and personality, not by her body and beauty,” the court said in a statement. “This is the greatest service that religions, especially Islam, have given to women, which obliges her to observe hijab so that her dignity is preserved and she is not sold or passed around like a commodity.”

Title icon

The View From The Vatican

In his first public statement about the protests, Pope Francis on Monday condemned the executions during a speech to ambassadors to the Holy See.

“The right to life is also threatened in those places where the death penalty continues to be imposed, as is happening in Iran in these days,” Francis said.

During the speech, the Pope also called on countries to resume negotiations with Iran, adding that despite the civil unrest, there was a renewed risk of nuclear war with Iran as the country continues developing its nuclear program.

Title icon

The View From France

The French government on Monday summoned Iran’s envoy over the executions.

“The Iranian charge d’affaires will be summoned today to the Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs to convey our firmest condemnation of these executions and the current repression in Iran,” the French foreign ministry said.