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01/12/2019 Iran (International Christian Concern) – The grave of the only Iranian Christian officially executed for apostasy was demolished this past December, according to Persian Christian news. Pastor Hussein Soodmand was buried in Mashad after his execution in December 1990.

Pastor Soodmand converted to Christianity prior to the 1979 revolution and was active in ministry, including leading the Assemblies of God Church in Mashad. He was arrested and tortured in 1990. He was freed on a short-furlough from prison, and executed two weeks after his return. Although he is the only Christian officially killed on apostasy charges, two other similar circumstances are worthy of note. Pastor Mehdi Dibaj was also sentenced to death, later acquitted, and then suspiciously killed five months later. Pastor Yousef Nadarkhani was also sentenced to death on apostasy charges and later acquitted, but he was rearrested and is currently serving a 10-year prison sentence.

For context, the newly appointed leader of the Quds Force, Brig. Gen. Esmail Qaani, is from the city of Mashad. His involvement with the IRGC in Mashad is what helped propel his career. In August 1988 he was appointed deputy commander of the Guard’s Forces, and is believed to have overseen a crackdown there in 1992 against protesters. As Deputy Commander, Qaani would have held a degree of command authority as the process of Pastor Soodmand’s execution was carried out.

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