Iran: Islamic Convert jailed for 10 years for Christian activities

August 19, 2013 by  
Filed under newsletter-asia

Mostafa Bordbar was arrested at Christmas 2012

Mostafa Bordbar was arrested at Christmas 2012

Iran, August 12, 2013: A convert from Islam has been sentenced to ten years in jail for his Christian activities in Iran; he confessed to distributing 12,000 pocket-sized Gospels in the strict Islamic country.

Mohammad-Hadi Bordbar, known as Mostafa, from Rasht was charged with membership of an “anti-security organisation” and gathering with intent to commit crimes against Iranian national security; he was given five years’ imprisonment for each offence.

His lawyer is appealing against the conviction and sentence, which was issued on 9 June, arguing that the two charges are effectively the same and Mostafa is therefore being punished twice for one crime.

Such charges are typical pretexts the Iranian authorities use prosecute Christians. A breakdown of the charges in court documents reveal that it was Mostafa’s Christian activities for which he was penalised.

They refer to his confession in court that he had left Islam to follow Christianity, considers evangelism his duty and has distributed 12,000 pocket-sized Gospels.

The papers also refer to Mostafa’s baptism, attendance at and leadership of house church gatherings, and translation and dubbing of Christian films, and the discovery of 6,000 Gospels and other Christian books and CDs in his house.

Mostafa was arrested in a raid on a house church gathering in Tehran on 27 December, 2012. The 15 plain-clothes security officers held everyone in attendance, around 50 converts, for hours and subjected them to interrogation.

Following the raid, the Rev. Vruir Avanessian, who has chronic kidney disease for which he requires dialysis three times a week, was detained for 15 days before being temporarily released on bail. There has been no further news regarding his case.

Mostafa had previously been arrested, in 2009, for converting to Christianity and attending a house church. He was subsequently found guilty of apostasy (leaving Islam) but freed on bail. The apostasy conviction has stayed on his record, preventing him from being able to register a company from which to earn a living.

The new Iranian president, Hassan Rouhani, has made some positive noises about civil rights’ reform, pledging to make every effort to free political prisoners. And in a speech given to clergy last month, he called on the government to stop meddling in people’s private lives.

Mr Rouhani said:

A strong government does not mean a government that interferes and intervenes in all affairs. It is not a government that limits the lives of people.

It remains to be seen if the new president will bring about real change to Iran’s oppressive society.

– barnabas team

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