More than 100 poets like Robert Pinsky, Claudia Rankine and Bill Collins, have signed a letter urging Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, to annul sentences given to Mehdi Mousavi and Fatemeh Ekhtsari.
On October 14th, Mehdi Mousavi, 41, and Fatemeh Ekhtesari, 31, have been condemned respectively to nine and eleven-and-a-half years of jail and ninety-nine lashes after an exiled singer, Chahin Nadjafi, used their verses in his songs. These verses have been judged as disrespectful of the religion.
A Tehran court considered them guilty for insulting the religion through propaganda against the state. An Iranian film maker who was close to the poets has also been condemned to 6 years in prison and 223 lashes but we don’t know yet the reason of his condemnation.
The letter was published on the website of the PEN America center. It said: “We are deeply concerned by the inhumane sentences levied against Ms Ekhtesari and Mr Mousavi for the simple act of expressing themselves by creating art.”
According to The Guardian on Tuesday, the poet’s lawyer, Amir Raisian, appealed against this sentence but we don’t know when the court will pay attention to this request. “We are hopeful for the court of appeal to commute the sentences,” Raisian said.
We can wonder about the future of the poets in Iran, if even the right of expressing themselves is forbidden. This is not the first condemnation and certainly not the last one.
OUADAH KELTOUM, IEJ 3 F GROUPE 2