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Separating a child from its parents Human rights violation in the courts of the Islamic Republic

The sentence was issued to a Christian couple converts who had taken care of a child from the age of 10 weeks. Because the child was born a Muslim, the Christian family could not take care of him.

(Mohabat News) – In an unprecedented case, a two-year-old adopted by a Christian couple was separated from his family by the ruling of the Bushehr Revolutionary Court!

The verdict issued for “Maryam Fallahi” and “Sam Khosravi”, a Christian couple who have taken care of a child from the age of 10 weeks, states that due to the child being born a Muslim, the Christian family cannot take care of him.
According to “Article 18” organization, the final verdict in this case was issued on Wednesday, September 23, 2020.

The verdict was upheld after a Bushehr family court judge ruled on July 19 that there was a “strong emotional connection” between the child and the Christian couple, Maryam Fallahi and Sam Khosravi. The orphanage has an “unknown future” ahead for him, and the chances of another family adopting Lydia due to her illness are “zero.”
The two-year-old suffers from heart and gastrointestinal diseases, and Welfare did not notify the Christian couple of Lydia’s condition, the report said. However, they are making every effort to improve the child’s condition without any objection. The Welfare and Forensic Medicine Supervisors have also confirmed that Maryam Fallahi, a nurse at Bushehr Heart Hospital for many years, and her husband provided the best care for the child during her care.

“The judge’s ruling to separate Lydia from the Christian couple is completely contrary to the fatwas issued by Makarem Shirazi and Yousef Sanei, two Shiite religious leaders,” their lawyer said. Nasser Makarem Shirazi, in response to the explanation and question of the lawyer of the case, had issued a fatwa that due to “necessity”, the child can stay in this family. Sanei also issued a fatwa stating that “his guardianship does not have any legal problems for couples, and that being a non-Muslim does not prevent them, and choosing a religion for the child should be done after puberty. The issuance of this sentence is not only contrary to international law, but also to Iranian law.”

The lawyer added, “Article 3 of the Law on the Protection of Unaccompanied and Malnourished Children and Adolescents states that all Iranian nationals residing in Iran can adopt children, and does not specify any religious affiliation. They are Iranians and the religion of Christianity is recognized in the system of the Islamic Republic of Iran. According to paragraph T of Article 6, the transfer of a child to religions accepted in the constitution is permitted.”

Maryam Fallahi and Sam Khosravi are among the seven Christian converts who were arrested by Bushehr security agents on July 1, 2019 and tried in the Bushehr Revolutionary Court.

Sam Khosravi was given one year imprisonment and two years ban to stay in Bushehr and Maryam Fallahi to 80 million Rials ($320) fine and permanent dismissal from government services

It should be noted that despite the fact that Christians are legally recognized as a religious minority, the security services are still pursuing the issue of Muslims converting to Christianity with particular sensitivity and are dealing harshly with activists in this field. Separating a child from its parents is the latest human rights violation in the courts of the Islamic Republic. “Adopted child” is just a legal term, and it is a crime to separate a two-year-old child who loves his [or] her legal parents.

The US Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) on September 24 added a number of judges from the Islamic Republic’s judiciary, three prisons, and one Revolutionary Court to the list of sanctions.

“Revolutionary Court judges do not administer justice fairly, but instead seek to deprive the Iranian people of justice, as well as human rights and fundamental freedoms. The United States will continue to stand with the Iranian people,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement. He called on the regime to treat them with the respect and dignity they deserve.

“The United States is exposing the true nature of the Iranian revolutionary courts and their judges as tools designed to carry out the Iranian regime’s brutal ideology and suppress dissent,” he said.

Villagers Burn Home, Beat Wife of Former Muslim Sheikh in Eastern Uganda

Mbulakyaalo Badawuyi of eastern Uganda was beaten for refusing to renounce his faith, and his home was burned. (Morning Star News)

(Morning Star News) – A former sheikh (Muslim teacher) in eastern Uganda who secretly became a Christian on Christmas Day decided to tell his two wives about his new faith last month.

Marijan Olupot invited his pastor to his home in Obokora village, Obokorasub County, Kibuku District on the evening of May 14. He then revealed his Christian faith to his wives and called on the pastor to explain the gospel so that the church leader could lead his family to faith in Christ, Olupot told Morning Star News by phone.

One of his wives put her faith in Christ as Lord and Savior, and the other declined, he said.

Three weeks later, the wife who had declined left the household and told a Muslim leader of the family’s conversion to Christianity, including three children. The Muslim leader then told other Muslims that their sheikh had left Islam, Olupot said.

Muslim villagers on June 8 surrounded Olupot’s house at about 11:30 p.m. and set it ablaze, he said. Olupot, his wife and three children ages 10, 12 and 14 fled through a back door.

“Unfortunately as we were fleeing in the night, the attackers managed to get hold of my wife and beat her with sticks, injuring her left hand and back and the right leg, but thank God my Christian neighbors rescued her,” Olupot told Morning Star News. “As we were fleeing, I heard one of the Muslims, named Hamuza, calling out that the house should be completed destroyed.”

His wife was in stable condition after neighbors rushed her to Mbale Regional Referral Hospital, he said. He and his family have taken refuge in the home of another pastor while she continues to undergo treatment.

“We need prayers at this trying moment, as the Muslims are out to kill me,” Olupot told Morning Star News. “My other wife is scheming for my death.”

Olupot, who came to Christian faith after a business colleague told him about Christ, said the fire destroyed valuables and other belongings in his home worth about 10 million shillings (US$2,670).

Christian Beaten, House Burned

Also in Kibuku District, hard-line Muslim residents of Kasasira on May 25 beat a Christian convert and burned his home for refusing to renounce Christ, he said.

Mbulakyaalo Badawuyi, 27, of Kasasira West Cell, Kasasira West Ward said a group of area Muslims he knew knocked on his door at about 7 p.m., and he refused to open.

“They destroyed the door and made entry, but I escaped through the rear door,” Badawuyi told Morning Star News by phone. “They followed me and got hold of me and began beating me up. Neighbors came when I screamed for help.”

A neighbour took him to a nearby medical clinic, he said. As he was being treated, he said, the same Muslims – identified as Nabutono Saida, Kulemuzamiru, Kapesa Musitafa, Ganda Amisi and Mugooda Abudallah – returned to his house and set it on fire, he said.

Badawuyi said he came to faith on Aug. 4, 2019 after a dream about Christ when he fell asleep during night prayers with other sheikhs and Muslims at a mosque.

“I fell asleep and had a dream that Isa [Jesus] told me that I was in a wrong place, and that therefore I was to go and look for His shepherds who will teach me all His holy words, then after learning go and preach those words to others,” he said.

During the dream he heard people shouting “Hallelujah!” he said.

“In the dream I also repeated the same, and this made me shout in the mosque, ‘Hallelujah!’” Badawuyi told Morning Star News. “The sheikhs and other Muslims who heard me shouting were very astonished, and one came and asked me that why are you shouting that hallelujah? I answered him that I have seen Jesus. As he called others to come and hear, I jumped out and took off, and since it was night they couldn’t get me.”

He went to a pastor who prayed for him, and he put his faith in Christ, he said.

The attacks in Kibuku District were the latest of many instances of persecution of Christians in Uganda that Morning Star News has documented.

Uganda’s constitution and other laws provide for religious freedom, including the right to propagate one’s faith and convert from one faith to another. Muslims make up no more than 12 percent of Uganda’s population, with high concentrations in eastern areas of the country.

Some Prisoners Released, but Iran Continues Crack-Down on Christians

Evin Prison, Iran

(Morning Star News) – The COVID-19 crisis in Iran has resulted in freedom for several Christians among the roughly 85,000 people released from prison, but convictions have continued in spite of a short-lived lull in actions against converts to Christianity, sources said.

The release of imprisoned Christians as part of the regime’s efforts to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus was pragmatic and not an indication of a change of policy by the Iranian government, rights advocates said.

“For a time it looked like the authorities were too busy with coronavirus to bother with the Christians,” a researcher at Middle East Concern (MEC) told Morning Star News. “Now we know they have really turned their attention again to targeting Christian converts.”

On April 21 Christian convert Mary (Fatemeh) Mohammadi, 21, was sentenced to flogging and three months plus one day in prison for taking part in a January protest in Tehran over the downing of Ukranian Airlines Flight 752 by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps of Iran. Though the case is unrelated to her faith, since previously serving a six-month prison sentence for charges due to Christian activity, Mohammadi has been harassed and denied education, according to MEC.

In the hearing, the judged asked Mohammadi about her Christian faith, although it had no bearing on the charges of “disturbing public order” that she faced, raising concerns as to whether her faith influenced the judge’s handling of the case.

Mohammadi will not appeal her sentence, which has been suspended due to the coronavirus crisis.

Mohammadi’s court hearing was suspended in April due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The MEC researcher said he was surprised that the court pursued the charges despite recent postponements within the judicial system.

“Personally, I thought they would have given priority to more serious cases,” he said.

‘Disturbing’ Sentence

Similarly, multiple sentences handed down to Christian convert Ismaeili Maghrebinejad based on virtually no evidence remain in effect, alarming advocates.

Maghrebinejad, 65, was sentenced to two years in prison on Feb. 27 for “membership of a group hostile to the regime” for receiving a Bible verse from Philippians from a Christian media organization, according to MEC. According to a court document, the organization advocates “Evangelical Zionist Christianity,” which is not tolerated by the regime.

When appealing the sentence, instead of a reprieve, Maghrebinejad was given an additional one year for “propaganda against the state.”

This followed a three-year sentence for “insulting Islamic sacred beliefs,” in a civil court hearing on Jan. 8. The crime: Maghrebinejad had responded to a joke on social media deemed critical of the clergy – with a smiley face emoji.

“This was the only evidence that they could find after arresting him without cause and searching his house without a warrant,” the MEC researcher told Morning Star News. “This is very disturbing. This is an elderly man. His family is not living in the country anymore, and he is really being targeted by the authorities. They are determined.”

Maghrebinejad is released on bail and appealing all three convictions.

Releases

The disappointing conviction came on the heels of more positive developments due to the virus, including the release of Christian converts Amin Khaki, Rokhsareh (Mahrokh) Ghanbari and Fatemeh Bakhteri.

The three Christians initially were released temporarily on bail of several thousand dollars, but as the novel coronavirus crisis continued, so did their release.

Khaki was released conditionally on March 2 after paying a bail bond and serving eight months of a 14-month sentence for “propaganda against the regime and establishing house churches.” Roughly one month later, Khaki was notified that he was not required to return.

After serving about seven months of their one-year sentences for “spreading propaganda against the regime,” Ghanbari and Bakhteri were also released temporarily in March.

Prison authorities informed Ghanbari in early April that she was not required to return, while Bakhteri was informed that her temporary release was extended, according to advocacy group Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW).

Remaining in Prison

Several other Christians with longer sentences remain in prison despite the threat of contracting the virus, including pastor Yousef Nadarkani and three others arrested with him – Mohammadreza Omidi, Yasser Mossaybzadeh and Saheb Fadaie.

All four are still serving 10-year sentences handed down in June 2017 for charges of “acting against the national security through propagating house churches and promoting Zionist Christianity,” according to CSW.

They requested furlough due to several coronavirus cases within some of the wards of Evin Prison, according to MEC, but it was denied.

Nadarkani’s case was reviewed by the revolutionary court in May, but the outcome is unknown, according a Middle East expert at CSW. He said it was unclear why Pastor Nadarkani has not been released.

“I guess he is a very high-profile case, so maybe to give a message to the Iranian society, and especially Iranian Christian converts, that, ‘Don’t think we are relaxing our policies – it is just temporary,’” he said.

Challenges

Advocates are hoping that more prisoners will be released permanently, and that those who were first released temporarily will be able to retrieve bail amounts that are often several thousand dollars.

The novel coronavirus hit Iran hard economically, and released Christian converts experience an additional layer of suffering, as it is harder for those targeted by the government to find jobs, the Middle East specialist at CSW said. They and potential employers are often harassed, eventually forcing them to leave the country.

The recent releases are largely image control by the Iranian government, he added.

“This serves the Iranian propaganda, because they release the prisoner,” he said. “They get some credit for that…but they make life so difficult for them that they have to leave Iran. They use these tactics to sort of dissuade and discourage others form converting or expressing their new faith in public.”

Iran was ranked ninth on Open Doors’ 2020 World Watch List of the countries where it is most difficult to be a Christian.

VOP NOTE: Voice of the Persecuted well knows the situation Iranians Christians are facing. We have asked you to keep praying for our sister in Christ, Anita. She, a Christian convert, recently appealed her sentence but was sentenced to a harsh term of 10years in prison for sharing the Gospel in Iran. This took place while others have been released during the Covid-19 pandemic. At present, Anita is under house arrest and waiting to be called back to the prison. Please continue to pray for her and all others bein persecuted for their faith by the Iranian Regime.

Extending the length of the exile of a Christian convert, Ebrahim Firouzi, with two new charges

Exiled Iranian Christian convert, Ebrahim Firouzi,

Ebrahim Firouzi says a new warrant, issued by the Courthouse of Sarbaz county, has added two charges of “insulting the sacred” and “cyber spying” to his case.
Sarbaz is a county in Sistan and Baluchestan Province in southeastern Iran.

(Mohabat News) In addition to two new charges, Ebrahim Firouzi has recently been sentenced based on a warrant issued by the Criminal Enforcement Branch of General and Revolutionary Courts in Robat Karim city.
Based on this verdict, issued on March 11, 2010, eight months have been added to the deportation of the Christian citizen.
Ebrahim Firouzi told Iranian Christians News Agency, “Mohabat News”: I requested a leave of absence because of family problems, but the city’s prosecutor added eight-month deportation to the length of my exile after three months.

This two-year exile of Ebrahim Firoozi to the city of Sarbaz (near the Iran-Pakistan border) began in mid-November 2009. He was imprisoned in Rajai Shahr (Gohardasht) Prison for four years before being deported, and his request for leave of absence was not agreed during all this time! Ebrahim, who has 35 years old, had been in prison for a total of seven years. He suffered much discomfort during his sentence that he was not allowed to attend the funeral after his mother died due to a long illness.

He says, “During the seven years of imprisonment, many things have occurred and the prison authorities did not agree to my request for a leave of absence to resolve these problems.” He added, “I was pressured by the relatives to carry out administrative matters quickly for preparing documents, and I was put on deadline. I applied for a five-day leave of absence regarding my administrative matters, but it was only agreed to six days, due to the paperwork.

“Ebrahim Firouzi says: “After being sent on leave, I was forced to get a layer to pursue administrative matters. Then, I returned to the Sabaz county and introduced myself to the police station, but they said my case is out of exile section. I went to the courthouse but they said you were absent and you left the city without permission and this report (your absence) was sent to Tehran.
Ebrahim Firouzi added, “I went back to Robat Karim and to the courthouse, and they accepted my reasons and announced that my leave had been approved, in a letter to the criminal enforcement division in Sarbaz County. I submitted the letter to the Sarbaz Courthouse but said my leave is unacceptable and my case has been sent to Tehran.

“He said: “It took me about three months to get this sentence and I was in exile all this time. Nevertheless, these three months are not counted as exile and I was fined eight months, namely, a total of six months was added to the exile.

These cases don’t involve all problems of Ebrahim Firouzi. Although he was acquitted of “insulting the sacred” in his first case, two charges of “insulting the sacred” and “cyber spying” were added to his case based on a new warrant issued by the Sarbaz Courthouse. Now, the fate of this Christian convert is uncertain. There have been a few reports indicating this high level of psychological harassment for a prisoner of conscience, if not unprecedented, and his situation is still unclear./ Persian

Family of 11 Homeless for Leaving Islam in Eastern Uganda

UGANDA (Morning Star News) – The pastor of a church in eastern Uganda faces a dilemma after receiving threatening messages from Muslim villagers last week.

A large family is staying at his church site after Islamist threats for leaving Islam forced them to flee their home. His congregation is dwindling as members have stopped attending services out of fear of an Islamist attack. Should he ask the family to try to relocate?

“On Feb. 20, I received some threatening messages that my church is going to be destroyed because of converting Muslims to Christians,” said the pastor, whose name is undisclosed for security reasons. “Some of my members have stopped attending the church for fear of their lives in a possible attack by the Muslims. Sending away the helpless family is not a good idea, but losing church members is also not good. We as a church are in a dilemma.”

Namuwaya (surname withheld), a 40-year-old mother of nine children in an area of Kamuli District undisclosed for security reasons, had first gone to an evening service at the church on March 18, 2019 after sleepless nights of unexplained anxiety. After the pastor prayed for her, she was still not at peace, she told Morning Star News by phone.

“As the church faithful were leaving, I shared with the pastor my troubled heart,” Namuwaya said. “He told me that it is only Isa [Jesus] who can heal a troubled heart, if only a person can put her trust in Him. The conviction was so strong that I could not resist. The pastor then prayed for my deliverance. After prayers, my heart was very peaceful.”

She did not tell her Muslim husband or children about her faith in Christ for three months, she said.

“I only continued praying for my family with the hope that Jesus will reveal Himself to them,” Namuwaya  said.

After four months, Namuwaya began telling her youngest five children, ages 5 to 12, about Christ’s atoning death and resurrection, and they accepted Christ as Lord and Savior a month later, she said.

Those children began sharing the message of Christ with the four older ones, ages 14 to 20, and by October 2019 all nine of her children had become Christians, she said. Namuwaya began sharing about Christ with her husband, 45-year-old Waiswa (surname withheld).

“When I shared Christ’s love to my husband, he was so furious at me and responded by slapping and kicking, which injured my rib on the left side,” Namuwaya told Morning Star News. “I was taken for medication. But I continued praying and sharing Jesus with him. After two months Jesus appeared to my husband in a vision, which led to his conversion to the Christian faith. He then stopped attending the prayers at mosque.”

Late last year the youngest child innocently told her grandfather, Waiswa’s father, that her father was attending church. Waiswa told Morning Star News that his angry father summoned him to a meeting where mosque elders and clan leaders would determine his punishment for leaving Islam. Under sharia (Islamic law), apostasy is often punishable by death.

“I did not attend the meeting, but instead we sought refuge at the church, where we have been residing since December 2019,” Waiswa told Morning Star News by phone.

Having fled his home and having lost his share of the family land, Waiswa is not sure where to go. His pastor is also in a quandary.

“The responsibility for the education of Waiswa’s family is a big challenge to the church, as well as the fears which have now entered the church for housing Waiswa’s family,” the pastor said. “We as a church need prayers for God’s protection for the church and the family of Waiswa, who are now landless.”

The case is the latest of many instances of persecution of Christians in Uganda that Morning Star News has documented.

Uganda’s constitution and other laws provide for religious freedom, including the right to propagate one’s faith and convert from one faith to another. Muslims make up no more than 12 percent of Uganda’s population, with high concentrations in eastern areas of the country.

VOP Note: Please pray for this family, the pastor and the church members.

Christian in Uganda Loses Children, Mother and Stepfather to Islamist Attack, Sources Say

Gaddafi National Mosque in Kampala, Uganda. (Wikipedia, Laika, ac)

(Morning Star News) – A 36-year-old Christian near Kampala, Uganda is mourning the deaths of his son, daughter, mother and stepfather, who were killed when Muslim extremists set their house ablaze seven weeks ago, sources said.

Before the radical Muslims set Ali Nakabale’s house on fire on Aug. 20 in Nakaseke, Nakaseke District about 50 kilometers (31 miles) from Kampala, his wife and other area Muslims had become enraged that he and his mother had converted from Islam to Christianity, Nakabale said. He and his 56-year-old mother, Nankya Hamidah, had put their faith in Christ at an open-air evangelistic event in August 2018.

“I had just visited my aunt only to receive sad news of the burning of our house,” the distraught Nakabale told Morning Star News by phone. “Upon arriving home, I found the house destroyed by fire that burned my four family members, including my two children. On reaching the mortuary, I found their bodies burned beyond recognition.”

Killed along with Hamidah were Joseph Masembe, who had also left Islam to follow Christ and had married Hamidah in November 2018 after her husband’s death earlier that year; Nakabale’s 9-year-old daughter, Afsa Lawada; and his 6-year-old son, Yakubu Njabuga.

A neighbor told Morning Star News that he and others became aware of the fire at 1 a.m. on Aug. 20.

“We saw fire emanating from the house of Hamidah with loud chants from Muslims saying, ‘Allah Akbar [God is greater],’” said the neighbor on condition of anonymity. “Arriving at the scene of the incident, we found that the house had been razed down, killing the four family members.”

Nakabale said that the mosque leader of the Kyanja area of Nakaseke had written a letter to his stepfather, Masembe, stating, “It has come to our attention that since you got married to Hamidah, you have not been attending the mosque.”

“At this, then I realized that the Muslims were monitoring our movements,” Nakabale told Morning Star News.

Relatives first discovered the Christian faith of Nakabale and his family members in May, after he brought his young son to attend an evening worship service. The following day his son, Njabuga, told of his experience at the service to his mother, 32-year-old Sandra Nakamada. She became furious and began beating her son, Nakabale said.

“When my wife began beating my son, condemning his action of going to church, then I knew our visit to the evening prayers had leaked,” Nakabale said. “The same day my wife walked out of the marriage and left the home. We got scared because we knew that our lives were in danger. For three months, no Muslims visited our home.”

During that time, Nakabale’s mother Hamidah was caring for the two children, he said.

Nakabale, his mother and stepfather had been secretly attending the evening worship of an undisclosed church since December, without his wife and children. He said that in April his stepfather built a pork slaughterhouse near their homestead, leading area Muslims to question his presumed Islamic faith – and destroy the slaughterhouse, as pork is forbidden in Islam.

“It was on April 15 that the Muslims destroyed our slaughterhouse, following the incitement of the brother of Sheikh Jamada, claiming that Masembe was practicing prohibited acts,” Nakabale said.

Nakabale reported the deaths of his four family members to police, who have filed a case (No. SD: 32/21/08/2019) and are investigating, he said. Depressed and in mourning, he fears for his life and is living at an undisclosed location, a source said.

“Nakabale is depressed and is questioning God on the brutal deaths of his two little children,” said another source whose name is undisclosed for security reasons. “He needs counseling and prayers at this difficult moment.”

Also in central Uganda, in July a widow in was forced to flee her home after receiving Islamist threats when area Muslims discovered she was a Christian. Such incidents are the latest of many cases of persecution of Christians in Uganda that Morning Star News has documented.

Uganda’s constitution and other laws provide for religious freedom, including the right to propagate one’s faith and convert from one faith to another.

Muslims make up no more than 12 percent of Uganda’s population, with high concentrations in eastern areas of the country.

Kiarash Alipour: Christians in Iran face organized discrimination

Mohabat News– On August 23, 2018, Amnesty International appealed to urgent action to quash the sentences issued for the pastor “Victor Bet Tamraz” and his wife “Shamiram Isavi” and the Christian converts “Amin Afshar Naderi” and “Hadi Asghari”. These four Christians have been sentenced to a total of 45 years in prison.

In an interview with Manoto News, Kiarash Alipour, spokesman for the Article 18 organization, in answer to the question, how much such measures can reduce the pressure on Christians in Iran, says: “Despite the government propaganda, the Islamic Republic continues to violate the freedom and rights of religion and belief minorities, and the Christian community in Iran faces the organized and structural discrimination of the government. On the one hand, these measures will be effective in informing the Iranian people and, on the other hand, the international community in putting pressure on the Iranian government to respect the rights of its citizens, and for this reason, I appreciate the Amnesty International”.

He also stated: “Article 13 of the Iranian Constitution recognizes Zoroastrians, Christians and Jews as the only recognized religious minorities, and emphasizes that they are free to perform their religious ceremonies and that they are allowed to live according to their religion. Also, Article 23 of the Constitution states that inquisition is prohibited. The Charter of Citizenship Law, which was published with a lot of advertisings by the government of Hassan Rowhani, emphasizes on this matter, but these citizens were sentenced only due to the use of their own right namely freedom of religion and belief”.

In the answer to the question, why the pressure on Christians has increased recently, Alipour also says: “In the past few years, Christianity has grown dramatically in Iran, and in a religious government that is dominated by theocracy instead of democracy, converting people into other beliefs raises questions about the legitimacy of this system, and thus, such peaceful activities are considered as acts against national security”.

The spokesman for the Article 18 organization described the judicial process for Christian converts’ case as “very bad and unfair” and also said: “For example, these four Christians were under pressure over interrogations and had very short trials, and in general we saw cases that were unbelievable. Once a while they attacked on a Christian’s house, and seized the Christmas tree as instrument of crime and the carpet beneath it and Christian paintings including the Last Super which was also found in Iranian market”.

At the end, he pointed to the arbitrary detentions and a security approach to religious minorities, and said: “Heavy prison sentences, denial of education, pressure on families of overseas Christians, as well as exile, have been indicative of increased pressure on Christians in Iran./FARSI

IRAN: Prison sentence for Christian convert in Bushehr

“interrogations were obviously indicating that they were looking for the accused’s confession to communication with abroad, especially America, Britain and Israel.”

Mohabat News– the Christian convert, “Payam Kharaman”, has been sentenced to one year in prison on charge of propaganda activities against the system and in favor of Zionist Christianity through holding house meetings, evangelism, and invitation to Christianity and inclination to the land of Christianity. This Christian convert was among 12 citizens who were arrested in Bushehr (on Tuesday, April 7, 2015).

“Bushehr is a port city and the center of Bushehr province located in southwest Iran.”

The cases of these 12 individuals with similar accusations have been under review until late April, 2018 while they were released on bail.
According to the verdict issued by Islamic Revolutionary Court of Bushehr headed by Judge Abbas Asgari, Payam Khoraman and 11 other individuals including “Shapour Jozi” and his wife, “Parastoo Zariftash” were sentenced to one year in prison, and they would be informed of the verdict on Wednesday, June 20, 2018.

The Christian convert, “Payam Kharaman” says to Mohabat News in detail about the case: on Tuesday, April 7, 2015, at around 8 A.M. – 8:30 A.M., 3 plain-clothed security agents came to the house, entered with a warrant, and rummaged throughout the house for 2 hours, and after inspection, seized computer case, mobile phone, flash memory, CDs, books and pamphlets and even private photo album, and transported me to the intelligence office of Bushehr near Bisim Avenue, and they started interrogating me from the first hours of my arrival in prison and continued until the evening of that day.

One of the special terms cited in the case of these 12 Christian converts is “inclination to the land of Christianity”, which is less common. Payam Khoraman says: interrogations were obviously indicating that they were looking for the accused’s confession to communication with abroad, especially America, Britain and Israel, and this term has originated from this matter.

He said: “the pressure and harassment of the security forces on me began in early 2012, and I was repeatedly summoned by the Office of Police Monitor Public Place in Bushehr and interrogated about evangelism and communication with abroad, and I always insisted on the belief in Christianity for myself and not for promotion of Christianity. Because I had a boutique shop in Bushehr, a number of officers’ family members in the office knew me and informed of heavy sentences against me, and the case which was under investigation by intelligence office. I thought it was just an empty threat, but unfortunately became a serious issue one or two years later.”

Advocacy director of Article 18, Mansour Borji introduced the charges attributed to these Christian converts and the process of judicial review on their cases “as example of inquisition and the violation of the freedom of religion and belief”, and he added: “Security agencies, following an ineffective policy in recent years, have tried to eliminate Farsi-speaking Christianity through unlawful pressures and false accusations in revolutionary courts and seemingly legal route.”

While corruption, theft and embezzlement of senior government officials and their relatives are the greatest problem in the country, and judicial systems infected with the corruption do not have the ability to fight against these problems, the harassment of religious minorities particularly Christians have been mandated for the Islamic Republic’s security apparatuses. Many Iranian Christians have preferred to abandon their homes in the last two decades and leave Iran to avoid the securities and judges. / FARSI

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