Iran has executed a 37-year-old psychologist, apparently in part for the grievous crime of believing that the story of Jonah—which appears in the Koran as well as the Bible—is a symbolic tale instead of a true account of a prophet who survives three days in a whale's belly. Mohsen Amir Aslani was arrested nearly a decade ago and was hanged last Wednesday on charges of "corruption on earth and heresy in religion," reports HRANA. Iran Wire quotes a source as saying Amir Aslani "gave classes on reading and interpreting the Koran," but that the classes "did not meet the approval of the Intelligence Ministry, which is why he was arrested so suddenly." Iran Wire describes an erratic timeline: Amir Aslani was arrested in 2006 and given a four-year sentence, which was reduced to 28 months then changed to death.
The death sentence was the result of new charges: Amir Aslani was originally arrested for his unorthodox take on the Koran, "but later he was accused of insulting prophet Jonah and also faced accusations of having sex outside marriage," a source tells the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran. Authorities alleged that he had extramarital sex with women who attended sessions, though his wife says no evidence of this was presented, the Guardian reports. Iran Wire describes the "physical and mental torture" he underwent in prison, via a source: He "was repeatedly moved between the common ward and the quarantine ward to make him believe his execution was imminent. ... He said that each time he was tortured by the fear of his own death." (In neighboring Iraq, ISIS blew up a shrine believed to be Jonah's tomb earlier this year.)