Three Christian converts in Iran sentenced to 80 lashes for taking communion; at least 25 more Christians arrested but three arrested in august released on bail

October 18, 2016 by  
Filed under newsletter-asia

Iran, October 12, 2016: Three Iranian converts to Christianity were last week sentenced to 80 lashes, simply for taking communion. They have been found guilty of alcohol consumption. In further news from Iran, at least 25 Christians in the southern city of Kerman were arrested on 27 September, however three of the five Christian converts arrested whilst spending time with their families in Firouz-Kouh county have been released on bail.

The trial of Yaser Mosibzadeh, Saheb Fadayee and Mohammed Reza Omidi for drinking alcohol took place on 10 September, but according to Middle East Concern it was only last week that their lawyer obtained the verdict, which they are appealing. Sharia law is implemented in Iran which means that drinking alcohol is illegal for Muslims. Although all those charged are Christian believers, their conversion from Islam is not recognised by the Iranian authorities so under Iranian law they are considered Muslims and their consumption of communion wine was therefore illegal. Drinking alcohol is one of Islam’s hudud crimes, meaning that the penalty (in this case flogging) is specified in the Quran.

The three Christians, along with their pastor, are also due in court on 15 October after being charged with “action against national security”.

Raids on “house churches” in Iran (i.e. congregations of converts from Islam), are common and often lead to arrests. On 27 September at least 25 Christians in Kerman were detained during a raid on Christian homes by security forces. Personal belongings were also confiscated. It is not yet known what exactly prompted the arrests and where the Christians were taken to.

In good news, Middle East Concern reports that three of the five Christian converts arrested on 26 August by the Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS) have been released on bail. Ramiel Bet Tamraz, Mohamad Dehnay and Amin Nader Afshar secured their release after they each paid the equivalent of around £27,200 ($33,000 or €29,900). They have not been notified of any charges they could face.

However, Hadi Askary and Amir Sina Dashti remain held, with the former reportedly having been put under especially intense pressure during interrogation.

– barnabas persecution update

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