Iran Sentences Christian Converts Under New Sectarianism Law

06/30/2021 Iran (International Christian Concern) – On June 21st the charge of “propaganda against the Islamic regime” was upheld against three Christian converts, Amin Khaki, Milad Goudarzi, and Alireza Nourmohammadi, standing trial in the Revolutionary Court of Karaj in northern Iran in a hearing that took less than an hour. On the 26th they received the maximum sentence of five years in prison and were fined 40 million tomans (US $1,600). All three have appealed the ruling, but the case of another Christian convert Hamed, facing the same charges on the 26th, does not provide much hope of an improved outcome as his sentence was upheld in the court of appeal.

In the court proceedings on the 21st the three men were denied legal representation as the judge, Mehdi Zeinali, claimed their lawyer had failed to register as their defense and they would have to represent themselves, despite the fact their lawyer had completed all requirements ten days prior.

Like Hamed, the three were charged after their homes had been raided and Bibles, cell phones, and computers confiscated. All four men come from a Muslim background and were charged under a new law added to the penal code by former president Hassan Rouhani in February of this year that deals with “sectarian issues” stating that “any deviant education or propaganda that contradicts or interferes with the sacred Islamic shari’a, will be severely punished.” Normally Christian converts facing trial in Iran have faced charges of “action against state security.” It is widely believed that this new law will serve as a more precise or expanded tool to suppress religious freedom.

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