Iran has threatened flogging and imprisonment for “spreading fake news” about the corona virus outbreak that has already killed 26 people in the Islamic Republic.
Hassan Norouzi, spokesperson for the Parliament’s Legal and Judicial Committee, said that “spreading lies” is punishable by one to three years of imprisonment with flogging, in accordance with Sharia law.
‘The spread of fake news about the coronavirus outbreak is [make] people panic. It will also pave the way for the country’s closure, “the Tehran Times told him in the translation.
Nourouzi added that 24 civilians were already in custody for “spreading rumors” and that the harsh punishments were justified by the shariah.
Pharmacists talk to customers at the drugstore in downtown Tehran, amid the fear that the country has insufficient medical resources
Three women and a police officer wear masks in Tehran on Sunday to guard against the corona virus in Iran, which now has the worst outbreak in the Middle East
An Iranian woman wears a protective mask to prevent coronavirus as seen at a drugstore in Tehran
Iran uses sharia law as the basis of its legal code, which means that crimes that are considered malicious against the state can be punished with an assault.
On Monday, the Iranian government condemned steps to politicize the outbreak and criticized the media for what it considered to be charges against the health ministry.
Iran has confirmed seven new deaths from coronavirus in the last 24 hours, the Ministry of Health said today, with a total toll of 26, the highest outside of China.
Another 106 confirmed infections brought the total number of cases so far to 245, Ministry spokesman Kianoush Jahanpour told a daily cabinet briefing.
In the aftermath of rising cases, officials have warned against a visit to the holy city of Qom, where many of the infections have been discovered, but President Hassan Rouhani refused to close the religious hub yesterday, saying that the regime will focus on containing of individuals, not in areas.
The city is the second holiest site for Shi’a Muslims and it is feared that pilgrims can spread the virus through the Middle East.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani makes a statement about coronavirus at a cabinet meeting in Tehran, Iran on 26 February 2020
Rouhani admitted that it can take ‘one, two or three weeks’ to gain control of the virus in Iran, which is linked to almost all cases in the Middle East.
However, Rouhani also tried to change Iranian anger against the United States and said that the virus “should not be turned into a weapon for our enemies to stop work and production in our country.”
“The Americans and our enemies during this period, of which about two years have passed, wanted their sanctions and propaganda to halt production and economic activities in this country and make people suffer,” he said.
The Iranian economy has been damaged by US sanctions since Donald Trump stopped the nuclear deal in 2015, which contributed to shortages of medical equipment.
In a shock to the regime, the Iranian health minister announced on Monday that he was infected with the corona virus, which killed just over 2,800 people worldwide.
In a video released Tuesday, he promised that the regime would bring the spiral-shaped outbreak under control.
Iraj Harirchi said Iran would “be victorious in our fight against this virus” in a video message he recorded after being taken into quarantine yesterday.
Iraj Harirchi was diagnosed with coronavirus on Tuesday, just one day after he appeared at a press conference that swept violently and insisted that the country had the outbreak under control
Iraqis wearing masks walk on partially abandoned streets of Iraq’s central shrine city, Najaf, on February 25, 2020
Harirchi’s diagnosis was embarrassing for the regime after he insisted the day before – while he was sweating heavily during a press conference – that the outbreak was not as bad as feared.
Several neighboring countries of Iran, including Iraq, Bahrain and the UAE, have stopped transport links after the virus spread across porous borders and infected people in the Middle East.
Bruce Aylward, who heads the joint WHO-China mission of experts, said that Beijing’s success in fighting the infection has put other nations in a false sense of security.
He said: “You must be ready to manage this on a larger scale … and it must happen quickly,” insistent countries must “be ready as if this will affect us tomorrow.”
Dozens of countries are now fighting outbreaks, with South Korea, Italy, Japan and Iran being the hardest hit.