The notes from Dr. Azam’s medical journal include a crushed toe, broken fingers, missing fingernails, broken ribs, a skull fracture, severe abdominal bruising, marks of flogging on her back and feet [and] extensive damage to her genitals.
Dutch authorities expressed shock and sadness over her execution and cut off diplomatic relations with Iran for approximately 20 days.
Roya Nobakht, 47, presently being detained as a political prisoner in Iran, may face execution for insulting Islam. She has lived in Stockport, England with her husband for the last six years and holds dual British-Iranian citizenship.
Her husband, Daryoush Taghipoor, has stated that his wife was arrested while visiting a friend at Iran’s Shiraz airport last October for comments she had made on a Facebook group calling the government of Iran “too Islamic.” According to a copy of her charge sheet seen by the UK’s Independent; she was transferred to Tehran and charged with “gathering and participation with intent to commit crimes against national security and insulting Islamic sanctities”– crimes punishable by death.
In an interview, Mr. Taghipoor told the Manchester Evening News that “his wife is not well at all…she has lost three stones [42 lbs]… and is scared that the government will kill her.” He also said that a confession had been extracted from his wife “under duress.” As is well documented, torture is systematically used by Iranian authorities to obtain confessions from political dissidents and even from some common prisoners.
Ms. Nobakht’s fears are not unfounded. Iran’s persecution of expatriates is nothing new. The first known case was that of Ms. Zahra Kazemi, a Canadian-Iranian photojournalist who died under torture in 2003 while in custody. Ms. Zahara Bahrami, a Dutch-Iranian, was hanged in 2011. Three Canadian-Iranians; Saeed Malekpour, Hossein Derakhshan and Hamid Ghassemi-Shall, along with American Amir Hekmati, were all arbitrarily arrested while visiting relatives in Iran on vague anti-government charges. With the exception of Mr. Ghassemi-Shall, who was recently released, each one presently languishes inside Iran as political prisoners under dire conditions.
Ms Zahra Kazemi, a Canadian-Iranian photojournalist who had left Iran in 1974, returned in 2003 to cover a story about Iran. She was soon arrested and detained in Evin prison on charges of espionage. As Iran does not recognize dual citizenships, Ms. Kazemi was not allowed representation by Canadian authorities. She later died in custody. The Iranian officials claimed she had died as a result of a stroke but refused to return her body to Canada. In 2005, however, Dr. Shahram Azam, a doctor with the Iranian security forces who had examined Ms. Kazemi’s half-dead body, fled Iran. He testified that the victim’s body showed extensive signs of torture administered over a few days. The notes from his medical journal include a crushed toe, broken fingers, missing finger nails, broken ribs, a skull fracture, severe abdominal bruising, marks of flogging on her back and feet, extensive damage to the genitals and peculiar deep scratches on her neck. She was 52 years old and the first victim of the Islamic regime’s war of terror on Iranians holding dual citizenship. Her body has never been returned to her son in Canada. After her murder, especially under the leadership of Prime Minister Stephen Harper, diplomatic relations between Iran and Canada deteriorated significantly.
Ms Zahra Bahrami, 45, who held dual Dutch-Iranian citizenship, had travelled to Iran to visit her ailing daughter. She was arrested in 2009 for participating in anti-regime protests and taken to the dreaded Evin prison. According to eyewitnesses, Ms Bahrami was tortured so severely she could not sit or stand easily and was denied medical care for serious lung complications. On Jan 29, 2011, she was suddenly hanged at 5:00 a.m. without anyone’s knowledge. She was then hastily buried by the authorities in the absence of her children. Dutch authorities expressed shock and sadness over her execution and cut off diplomatic relations with Iran for approximately 20 days.
Mr. Amir Hekmati 31, an American born in Arizona to Iranian parents and who was visiting Iran for the first time, was arrested in 2011 and charged with “spying for the CIA.” He was tortured until he finally gave a televised confession. As a result he was sentenced to death but thanks to heavy international pressure, in 2014 his sentence was finally changed to 10 years in prison. Three Canadians — Mr. Saeed Malekpour, 39; Mr. Hamid Ghassemi-Shall, 45; and Mr. Hossein Derakhshan, 38 — were arrested while visiting relatives in Iran in 2008, on various charges. Malekpour was charged with designing software that was used in an “un-Islamic” way by third parties, whereas Ghassemi-Shall was accused of the customary espionage. Both were tortured while kept in solitary confinement for over a year and sentenced to death. Malekpour wrote from prison that his jaw had been broken while his interrogators were trying to extract his teeth with pliers, and that he had only confessed to crimes dictated to him by his interrogators under torture and threats to his family. Malekpour’s death sentence was eventually commuted to life in prison, while Mr. Ghassemi-Shall, was released in September 2013 — both due to successful campaigns by various international human rights organizations.
Derakhshan — nicknamed the “blogfather” — is best known for introducing blogging to Iran in 2001. He was sentenced for the contents of his blogs to 19.5 years in prison — the heaviest sentence ever handed down to a blogger.
The Islamic Republic of Iran does not recognize dual citizenships and considers all those who were born in Iran or to Iranian parents as Iranian citizens subject to its deadly Islamic penal code. One hundred and thirty-one offenses are punishable by death including theft, adultery, homosexuality, political dissidence, drug possession and blasphemy. It would be fair to conclude that travelling to Iran with any citizenship carries a risk. One enters a lawless and unaccountable country that lacks any degree of human rights, and where torture and hangings are an integral part of its government’s rule and survival.
By Shadi Paveh for Gatestone Institute
Shadi Paveh is a human rights activist for Iran who works with many international human rights organizations. She is also known for co-translating a key interview which exposed Iran’s regime dubious activities in Canada, as well as for translating and relaying many documents and letters from prisoners of conscience to the EU Parliament.
Tony Miano, a US preacher and a former Los Angeles Deputy Sheriff, was arrested yesterday (8th January) and remanded in custody to appear before Dundee Sheriff Court at 10am today.
He was part of a street preaching team holding a week-long mission in Scotland.
He was the second of the street pastors to address lunchtime shoppers in Dundee High Street. He talked about the nature of sin; about the different sins that Jesus had come to save people from when a woman began to shout at him. He was preaching about sin in general and when he mentioned sexual sin including adultery, promiscuity and homosexual practice, the woman shouted that her son was gay.
Mr. Miano’s colleague, Pastor Josh Williamson of the Craigie Reformed Baptist Church in Perth, who was present at the incident explains: “Tony wasn’t focussing just on homosexual practice – it was about all sin. A woman was yelling at him and her friend noticed we were filming the preaching, so she ran up to me and tried to smash my camera.”
He says the first woman then appeared to be calling the police on her mobile just as a council warden came along and said that while we were doing nothing wrong, and had the right to free speech, we should move on.
Mr. Miano finished his preaching in a few minutes and as the street preachers packed up two police officers arrived. At this point Pastor Williamson says the women shouted that they would get the preachers arrested.
“The female officer saw we had a camera and lunged for it and then the male policeman grabbed it and threw it in the police van,” says Pastor Williamson.
He says the male officer interviewed the women and then immediately arrested Mr. Miano, but did not question him or explain why he was being arrested.
“After Tony was put in the police van I asked why he was being arrested and was told it was for a breach of the peace and for using homophobic language,” says Josh Williamson.
Andrea Minichiello Williams, Chief Executive of the Christian Legal Centre, says the incident raises serious questions about police procedure and understanding of the law in dealing with such incidents.
“This appears to be an overzealous reaction by the police. The incident, adds to the number of arrests of Christian street evangelists for preaching from the Bible. It is indicative of the suppression of the freedom to speak and live out the words of Jesus Christ in public and present the teachings of the Bible,” says Andrea.
She adds that the Christian Legal Centre is ready to serve anyone who is challenged for expressing their Christian beliefs.
“At the Christian Legal Centre we are committed to helping people to continue to preach the Gospel in our nation.”
Tony Miano was arrested in July last year, in London, for alleged ‘homophobic’ comments. The case was dropped.
He has been remanded in custody to appear before Dundee Sheriff’s Court today (9th January) at 10am.
Britain should withhold aid to countries that persecute Christians, a senior Conservative has said.
Liam Fox, former Defence Secretary, said that it was “unacceptable” for taxpayers’ money to go to regimes that do not “represent our values” and refused to tolerate other religions.
“A lot of people find it increasingly unacceptable as we look round the world and we see persecution of Christians, for example, or persecution of other religious minorities. They say, ‘Why should our money be given to regimes and governments who are extremely intolerant when it comes to other people’s religions?’”
The Times reported that he singled out Pakistan and Somalia as countries that fell short of British “ethical values”.
A number of MPs have spoken out for Christians in the Middle East after Prince Charles last month warned of a “crisis” of organised persecution in the region.
The Prince of Wales said at a reception for Middle Eastern Christian leaders at Clarence House that “Christians in the Middle East are, increasingly, being deliberately targeted by fundamentalist Islamist militants.”
Days later the shadow foreign secretary, Douglas Alexander, in an article in the Sunday Telegraph, accused British politicians of having “forsaken” the cause of Christians in the Middle East.
He praised the Conservative Minister for Faith and Communities, Baroness Warsi, and the DUP MP Jim Shannon, for speaking out in Parliament and elsewhere for the rights of Christian minorities.
by Liz Dodd for The Tablet
The newspaper says research shows that in 2011 out of 160 countries where religious groups were persecuted, Christians were harassed in the largest number of places.
“It is good that our leaders have begun to highlight the persecution of Christians across the world but we must also guard against the greater hostility shown towards Christians in the UK than other groups,” says Andrea Williams, CEO of Christian Concern.
She points out examples of employers allowing workers to wear the Hijab or Turban but discriminating against the Christian cross being worn in the workplace, and also the incidence of courts upholding objections to Christian messages being published while allowing humanist beliefs to be expressed.
“The perception is widespread among the Christian community in Britain, that their faith is under attack as never before, in a land which did much to spread Christianity to become the largest religion in the world,” says Andrea.
Prince Charles says he is “deeply troubled” by the growing difficulties faced by Christians in the Middle East, who are being increasingly “targeted by fundamentalist Islamist militants”. Report by Tom Ellis.
The Prince of Wales has expressed concern about the plight of Middle Eastern Christians and is visiting members of their communities in the UK tomorrow.
He will travel to the Coptic Orthodox Church Centre in Stevenage and then visit the Syrian Orthodox Church, St Thomas Cathedral in West London, where he will meet members of the community and hear about their experiences in the Middle East.
Later tomorrow he is to host a reception at Clarence House to celebrate Christian Communities in the Middle East, at which the Archbishop of Westminster, the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Chief Rabbi are due to be present.
In a statement, Clarence House said: “The Prince has expressed concern about the current challenges facing Christians in some Middle Eastern nations and wanted to meet members of those communities resident in the UK to find out more.”
In recent years there has been an exodus of Christians from the Middle East due to sectarian violence and persecution.
The statement added: “The Prince of Wales wants to draw attention to the importance of harmony and understanding between peoples of all faiths.”
He will be accompanied by Prince Ghazi of Jordan, an adviser on religious and cultural affairs to the King of Jordan, and the author of “a common word initiative” which was sent in 2007 to Pope Benedict XVI calling for peace between Islam and Christianity.
Christopher Lamb –The Tablet
LONDON — Nohad Halawi learned that in today’s Britain, you’d better not be perceived as having insulted Islam at work because it could ruin your life.
Halawi worked the cosmetics counter in the duty free zone inside London’s Heathrow Airport for 13 years. She was by all accounts hardworking and well-liked.
But when Halwai ran afoul of her Muslim co-workers, she was effectively fired.
“I didn’t say anything wrong. I was complimenting a colleague of mine,” she said.
Halawi, a Christian from Lebanon, was having a conversation in Arabic with a co-worker and praising a Muslim colleague when it was misinterpreted by another Muslim employee as an insult.
The False Accusation
“We were talking about something else and I said, ‘Well, everyone is not like you. You are such an “alawi,’ which means ‘man of God’ in any religion,” she explained.
“And unbeknownst to me my accuser was standing quite close by and he just started jumping and shouting and in front of colleagues and passengers and everyone started telling me, ‘You are insulting Islam,'” she continued.
It sounds like a ridiculous accusation, but rumors began to spread among Heathrow’s many Muslim employees that Halawi was anti-Muslim. She was seen as a problem and eventually fired.
But Halawi isn’t anti-Muslim. She is married to a Muslim. She spoke of the embarrassment of having to explain to family and friends that she lost her job because she was a “racist.”
She said “it was all a total lie.”
Halawi is being represented by the Christian Legal Centre, headed by Andrea Williams.
“What happened to Nohad was totally unfair and grossly disproportionate,” Williams told CBN News. “Actually, when you hear what she said, she was not giving offense at all. So, to be perceived to give offense to Allah, to the prophet Mohammed, means she lost the job she had had for many years and now finds herself living in fear of reprisals.”
A Hotbed for Anti-Christian Proselytizing
She also was harassed for being a Christian and heard the name of Jesus mocked by Muslims.
Read More at CBN