A British-Iranian hunger striker calling for the UK to proscribe Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corp (IRGC) is to resume his public protest this week after a fatwa was allegedly issued against him.
Vahid Beheshti, 46, was recently discharged from hospital after spending two months on hunger strike in a tent outside London’s Foreign Office and is believed to be recovering in a 'safehouse'.
He told the JC that “nothing” would stop him from returning to Whitehall to protest, despite being “strongly advised” not to by counterterrorism operatives.
“I’m not going to stop my activities, not even for a second, otherwise the ayatollahs win,” Beheshti said. “The only thing the fatwa proves is how effective this protest has been.”
Beheshti said UK counterterror and intelligence agencies are investigating claims that a fatwa – a religious edict delivered by a scholar of Islamic law – calling for his death has been issued.
“Fatwas from ayatollahs is a much deeper threat than just a death warrant,” he said.
“When they are issued, it’s not just up to the agents of the regime. Any Muslim that believes the specific ayatollah or the edicts of the regime has a duty to it, and a responsibility to come and kill you.”
“Of course, I am worried. I am dealing with all these emotions around me from my family, my wife, all the supporters and friends around me, but I cannot stop now. I’m going to be even more active after this.”
Beheshti is no longer refusing food having been slowly reintroduced to it during his two-week hospital stay.
He said that he has been able to walk without a stick since Monday and had been eating solid food since Sunday.
“When I return to the Foreign Office this time it will just be a normal strike, in a tent, with my friends who are still there,” he said.
One day after allegedly being informed of the fatwa by an Iranian cleric connected to the IRGC, Beheshti was visited in hospital by Ukraine’s chief rabbi and the Conservative peer Lord Stuart Polak.
Beheshti said he was “blessed” to meet with Ukrainian Chief Rabbi Moshe Azman, with whom he shares a “common enemy” in Iran.
Azman, who was in the UK to meet politicians and Jewish leaders to raise support for the Ukrainian war effort, showed concern for Beheshti’s health and encouraged him in his campaign.
Ukraine, the rabbi said, has suffered due to the actions of the Islamic Republic after it allegedly provided Russia with drones and missile technology in its war against the country.
Beheshti said he has yet to receive any direct response from the Prime Minister, Foreign Secretary James Cleverly or Home Secretary Suella Braverman over his ongoing effort to ban the IRGC.
“I love every second of my life,” Beheshti said. “But there is a price for freedom; here, today, in the UK, there is a price.
“IRGC agents operate on UK soil, and we cannot tolerate their behaviour.
“The only language they understand is pressure and strong leadership. We have to put an end to this gang of terrorists, and I’m going to stay in my tent until we achieve this in totality.”
A government spokesperson told the JC: "We do not tolerate threats to life, or intimidation of any kind towards individuals in the UK and will continue to use all the tools at our disposal to protect against any such activity.”