Iran may execute disabled bodybuilder who criticized COVID-19 rule

The Paralympian argued on Instagram that it was “hypocritical” to close down gyms in the city of Mashad but still permit pilgrims into the Imam Reza Shrine.

The Iranian flag flutters in front of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) headquarters in Vienna last March (photo credit: REUTERS/LEONHARD FOEGER)
The Iranian flag flutters in front of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) headquarters in Vienna last March
(photo credit: REUTERS/LEONHARD FOEGER)
The Islamic Republic of Iran arrested the country’s Paralympian Reza Tabrizi because he questioned why gyms have been closed due to the coronavirus pandemic while religious shrines continue to remain open, according to posts on social media from human rights experts.
Iranian dissident and women’s rights campaigner Masih Alinejad tweeted on Tuesday that “I got this shocking video from Iran. Reza Tabrizi, a disabled athlete, was violently forced into a police car & harassed by plainclothes agents as he struggled to walk. He was arrested for asking why religious shrines are open while gyms are closed during [COVID-19]. He faces death.”

Tabrizi won a silver medal for powerlifting in the 2011 New Zealand World Para Athletics Championships, according to the British Telegraph paper.

He argued on Instagram that it was “hypocritical” to close down gyms in the city of Mashad but still permit pilgrims into the Imam Reza Shrine.
 The Iranian regime cleric Morteza Mustafazadeh wrote on Instagram about Tabrizi.
“This guy had posted a threatening insult on his Instagram account and thought that in the country ruled by our religious beliefs he could do any damn thing that he wants. Thanks be to God he is now behind bars.” Mustafazadeh has pressed for the bodybuilder to be executed.
According to the UK's The Telegraph, Tabrizi apologized for his Instagram post.
“I apologize to all my friends and fans and hereby state that the love of our religious saints runs in the blood of my family and if as a result of a moment of negligence I have hurt your feelings I do sincerely apologize and ask for your forgiveness,” Tabrizi said.
 In September, Iran’s regime executed the champion wrestler Navid Afkari for his participation in 2018 nation-wide protests against regime corruption. The hanging of Afkari is widely believed to be an extrajudicial killing to instill fear into the population to suppress dissent and demonstrations.
A spokesman for the International Paralympic Committee told The Jerusalem Post that "the IPC on Tuesday evening was made aware of this story regarding Reza Tabrizi and immediately contacted the National Paralympic Committee of Iran for further information regarding this matter."
The IPC does not have Tabrizi registered for the New Zealand World Para Athletics Championships. Bodybuilding is not a sport recognized by the Paralympic movement. A Post search of the Iranian Paralympic website does not show Tabrizi listed as an athlete. However, Tabrizi has won medals in several bodybuilding competitions.