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Iranian Journalist Arrested Over Tweet Deemed Insulting To Shi’ite Imam

An Iranian journalist has been arrested in Tehran over a tweet deemed insulting to Shi'ite Islam's so-called Eighth Imam.

Amir Hossein Miresmaili, a reporter with the Jahane Sanat daily, was detained at Tehran's Imam Khomeini Airport on April 24 while trying to leave the country for Georgia, according to a news agency affiliated with Iran's judiciary, which quoted an "informed security source."

The Mizaonline report said Miresmaili was arrested and handed over to judiciary authorities.

Miresmaili confirmed his arrest via Twitter, saying, "I've been arrested."

The hard-line Tasnim news agency previously reported that Miresmaili was summoned to court on April 23 for "insulting" a Shi'ite imam, a reference to the presumed descendants of the Prophet Muhammad who are revered by some Shi'a.

Miresmaili said he had written the tweet in reaction to the suggestion by Mashhad Friday Prayers leader Ayatollah Ahmad Alamolhoda that holding concerts is an insult to the Shi'ite imam, known as Imam Reza.

The journalist had said in a subsequently deleted tweet that Imam Reza was "one of us," suggesting that the revered religious figure would have enjoyed having fun.

"I did not insult Imam Reza in that tweet. I'm a Muslim and a Shi'a and I just wanted to criticize Alamolhoda," he said on April 23.

In another tweet posted on April 23, Miresmaili said he was merely trying to comment on events in Mashhad in a language that is understandable to young people.

Iranian authorities routinely summon, arrest, and imprison journalists, bloggers, activists, and others for remarks regarded by the country's clerical leadership as blasphemous or otherwise offensive to Shi'ite Islam.

Thousands of websites, including news and social-media sites, are also blocked by the authorities.

Copyright (c) 2015. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036.

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