Five Iranian Christian converts who were detained late last year will reportedly begin trial in Iran’s Revolutionary Court this week, according to a human rights group following the case.
The five men were among seven arrested in October when security forces raided an underground house church in the city of Shiraz during a prayer session. They will be tried at the Revolutionary Court in Shiraz’s Fars Province on charges of disturbing public order, evangelizing, threatening national security and engaging in Internet activity that threatens the government, according to Christian Solidarity Worldwide, a religious persecution watchdog group.
“Judging from recent cases, it is likely that, at the very least, those detained may face lengthy prison sentences,” said CSW spokesperson Kiri Kankhwende.
According to Kankhwende, the crackdown against Christian converts and house churches parallels a general increase in repression against many, including journalists, religious and cultural minorities and others as the government is leading up to June’s presidential elections.
They have to worship in their houses because converts are not able to attend churches.
he underground church network has been rapidly growing in Iran as a place where converts from Islam to Christianity can pray as they are forbidden to attend services at formal churches.
Alongside the growing network of home churches has been the increase in violent crackdowns and raids on these communities and arrests made on Christian converts, among them the internationalized case of Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani, held for almost three years on charges of apostasy and more recently American Pastor Saeed Abedini who is currently serving an eight-year sentence for evangelizing and threatening national security.
“House churches are growing because the converts have nowhere else to go,” said Tiffany Barrans, international legal director at the American Center for Law and Justice,
“When you’re a convert to Christianity in Iran, you can’t go worship at the church on the corner, because conversion is not acceptable. If they were allowed to go to an official place of worship, there wouldn’t be a house church movement,” Barrans said.
“Essentially they have created the house church problem and now use it to persecute its own people.”
For all the talk of the dire threat of Islamophobia and the stories of the persecution that Muslims suffer in the West, it should be noted that no where in the world is it unlawful to convert to Islam, nor do such converts fear being imprisoned. On the other hand, anyone who dares to convert from Islam, it doesn’t matter if the convert becomes a Christian, Buddhist, or atheist, they fear for their lives.
Under Shariah, or Islamic law, a Muslim who converts to Christianity is on a par with someone waging war against Islam. Death sentences for such individuals are prescribed by fatwas, or legal decrees, and reinforced by Iran’s Constitution, which allows judges to rely on fatwas for determining charges and sentencing on crimes not addressed in the Iranian penal code.
All religious minorities in Iran, including Bahais, Zoroastrians, Jews and Christians, have faced various forms of persecution and political and social marginalization throughout the regime’s 30-year reign. But the government saves its harshest retribution for those who have abandoned Islam.
It is interesting, and a little encouraging that Christianity seems to be growing in Iran, even under the harshest persecution.
- Christians tried for ‘action against national security’ (wnd.com)
- Iran a “Rational actor”? ; Iran Imprisons Citizens for being Christian (amerisrael.typepad.com)
- Iran puts five Christians on trial for their faith Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/world/2013/03/11/iran-puts-five-christians-on-trial-for-their-faith/#ixzz2NGmypKYf (churchonfire.wordpress.com)
- ‘They Are Being Persecuted For Their Christian Faith': Five Iranian Christians Arrested At Prayer Service Facing Trial With ‘Political’ Charges (midnightwatcher.wordpress.com)
- Dr. Terry Jones Demands Release of Iranian-American Christian Pastor Saeed Abedini (1389blog.com)