Canada should welcome Intrauniversalism founder Mohammad Ali Taheri on humanitarian grounds

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      Unconventional thinkers don't have it easy in Iran.

      According to Amnesty International, human rights in that country "severely deteriorated" in 2018.

      Authorities clamped down on freedoms that we sometimes take for granted in Canada, including freedom of expression, association, and religion.

      "Trials were systematically unfair," Amnesty reported. "Torture and other ill-treatment were widespread and committed with impunity. Floggings, amputations and other cruel, inhuman and degrading punishments were carried out."

      According to the human rights organization, executions sometimes occurred in public in Iran. Thousands are on death row.

      One of those who've endured hellish times in Iran's notorious Evin Prison is Mohammad Ali Taheri, the 63-year-old founder of Interuniversal Mysticism.

      Its adherents say that this practice, also known as Erfan-e Halgheh, conforms to Iranian Sufi beliefs.

      According to a lawyer with the Iran Human Rights Documentation Center, Interuniversal Mysticism "seems to focus on prayer or some sort of meditation or consciousness as a mean of obtaining wellness" and involves "the rejection of modern medicine".

      In other words, Taheri is a keen advocate of complementary medicine and using the body's own means to fight off disease.

      There's a legally registered nonprofit group in California called Interuniversalism Inc., according to a document on the federal government website.

      Another Interuniversalism group exists in the U.K.; its director has said that there are two to three million followers and 500,000 trainers in Iran and up to 10 million worldwide.

      For his beliefs, Taheri twice received the death penalty in Iran for "spreading corruption on Earth".

      "His family in Canada live in shock and fear that the life of their son and brother could be brutally taken from them for nothing more than the peaceful expression of his beliefs," Amnesty International stated after one of the death sentences was issued in 2015. "The Taheri family in Canada have been cautious about making public statements. For years they have lived in the hope that Mohammad Ali Taheri would be set free from his nightmare of imprisonment, solitary confinement and interrogation."

      His death sentence was commuted in 2017 by Iran's Supreme Court.

      And in April, Taheri was released from jail following an appeals court ruling. This came nine years after he was put behind bars, according to the Center for Human Rights in Iran.

      He's on temporary leave from prison, according to an Iranian state media outlet.

      This suggests that Taheri could one day find himself again imprisoned in Iran.

      In January, the Trudeau government won praise around the world when it allowed a Saudi Arabian teenager, Rahaf Mohammed, to come to Canada. Mohammed sought freedom from the brutal gender inequality in Saudi Arabia.

      By granting asylum to Mohammed, Canada demonstrated that it hadn't lost sight of the importance of human rights in a world marred by despotism, cruelty, and religious persecution.

      With just nine weeks until the next federal election, the Trudeau government can offer asylum to Taheri, given that he has family members living in Canada.

      He's suffered tremendously in an Iranian prison, even though he didn't commit any real crime.

      According to Amnesty International, Taheri went on at least 13 hunger strikes while in jail. The organization's Canadian arm launched a petition drive, which may have played a role in helping him gain his freedom.

      But what's the use of freedom if a person can't be reconnected with his family?

      Surely, the Trudeau government can appreciate that.

      Let Mohammad Ali Taheri come to Canada to live the rest of his days in peace.