Desecration of Holy Figures
Insulting Shia Imams
On April 23, 2018, Tasnim News Agency reported that Miresmaieli had been summoned to the Culture and Media Court on the charge of “Desecration of Holy Figures.” A day later, Miresmaieli informed the public of his arrest on Twitter. On 17 May 2018, he was released from custody after settling bail.
On July 12, 2018, Miresmaieli was arrested and imprisoned once again for a controversial tweet, this time against the Imam Khomeini Relief Foundation. Mizan News Agency interviewed an “informed intelligence officer” on the issue, and reported that “Mr Miresmaieli was arrested at Tehran Imam Khomeini International Airport when he was about to escape the country [and travel to] for Georgia”.
The first controversial tweet said: “There are two stories on how Imam Reza died. One with a poisonous grape, and the other with [toxic] pomegranate juice. Therefore, his holiness would definitely appreciate some chips and dipping next to the ‘grape juice’. Now, who believes Alamolhoda, who says music and dance are insults to Imam Reza? Don’t lie, mate! Imam Reza is one of us.” He originally tweeted these words as a response to conservative cleric Ahmad Alamolhoda's harsh criticism of music and dance.
After the tweet, some hardliners on social media launched a protest campaign against Miresmaieli and demanded that officials prosecute him. Miresmaieli apologized and tweeted: “Once again, I never insulted Imam Reza, I’m a Shia Muslim myself and my only intent was to criticize Alamolhoda. I apologize if I caused anyone any hard feelings. By the way, for people who consider themselves true Muslims, even if I am guilty, why they are threatening me with murder and acid-throwing? Is this the way Islam instructed us?”
He also wrote an essay and apologized to Imam Reza and his audience. Some people voiced support for Miresmaieli’s right to free speech. He was taken into custody two days after publishing the tweet.