Iran: Christians face 80 whip lashes for drinking communion wine. Other six Christians’ appeal rejected

October 30, 2013 by  
Filed under newsletter-lead

Iran, October 29, 2013: Men arrested in crackdown on church service in Iran.

Communion WineFour Iranian Christians were sentenced last week to 80 lashes each for drinking communion wine during a communion service at a house church.

The four men were charged in court with drinking alcohol and possessing a receiver and satellite antenna in Rasht, a city 200 miles northwest of Tehran, on Oct. 6. The verdict was delivered to the men Oct. 20, and they have been given ten days to appeal the sentence, the group Christian Solidarity Worldwide reports.

Iran is an Islamic Republic, and Islam forbids the consumption of alcohol. Non-Muslims account for less than one percent of Iran’s population.

The charged men are members of the Church of Iran, a Protestant ecclesiastic community. Two of the men were arrested Dec. 31, 2012, during the government’s crackdown on house churches.

Mervyn Thomas, head of Christian Solidarity Worldwide, criticized the sentence.

“The sentences handed down to these members of the Church of Iran effectively criminalize the Christian sacrament of sharing in the Lord’s Supper and constitute an unacceptable infringement on the right to practice faith freely and peaceably,” he said Oct. 23.

He urged the Iranian authorities to ensure Iran’s laws do not violate the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Iran is a signatory. He said the government should guarantee “the full enjoyment of freedom of religion or belief by all its religious communities.”

Prison for six Christians confirmed


Homayoun Shokouhi has been jailed for three years and eight months

Homayoun Shokouhi has been jailed for three years and eight months

Iran, October 29, 2013: Six Christians have failed to get their prison sentences overturned on appeal and the ruling is now final.

Mojtaba Seyyed-Alaedin Hossein, Mohammad-Reza Partoei, Vahid Hakkani and Homayoun Shokouhi were each sentenced to three years and eight months in prison following their conviction in June. They were found guilty of attending a house church, spreading Christianity, having contact with foreign ministries, propaganda against the regime and disrupting national security.

Homayoun’s wife, Fariba Nazemian, and their 17-year-old son, Nima Shokouhi, had each received a two-year suspended prison sentence. She had been detained for eight months before being released on bail in October 2012; Nima spent 36 days in custody.

They were all arrested in a raid on a house church in February 2012. Vahid has been denied proper medical care for severe internal bleeding.

The treatment of these Christians underlines the points made in a new human rights report onIran by special UN rapporteur Ahmed Shaheed. Published on 23 October, it condemns widespread human rights abuses, saying that, although there had been “a number of positive signals” from new President Hassan Rouhani, there was “no sign of improvement” in areas previously raised as matters of “serious concern”.

Mr Shaheed welcomed the release of a number of political prisoners but said that much more needs to be done to remedy a long list of human rights violations, which include continuing restrictions on and harassment of Christians, especially converts from Islam who are involved in the house church movement.

Iran rejected the report as “unfair” and “politically motivated”. An Iranian official from the country’s UN mission said that Mr Shaheed “has not paid sufficient notice to Iran’s legal system and Islamic culture and considers whatever he sees in the West as an international standard for the entire world”.

– barnabas & cna


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