Iran Releases Another Jailed Christian Convert After Pressure
By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent Worthy News
TEHRAN (Worthy News) – Iran has released another Christian convert from its notorious prison, just days after another jailed Christian was freed, Christians said Thursday.
However, rights activists questioned the government’s true intentions behind Wednesday’s release of Hadi (Moslem) Rahimi, 33, from Tehran’s notorious Evin Prison.
The release came after Zaman (Saheb) Fadaei was freed on February 8, Christians told Worthy News. “Both converts were pardoned as part of an amnesty for the 44th anniversary of the Islamic Revolution on February 11,” confirmed advocacy group Middle East Concern (MEC).
“While the prisoners and their families rejoice at being reunited, the amnesty – which may possibly apply to thousands of prisoners – has been criticized by human rights organizations,” MEC noted.
Hadi Ghaemi, executive director of the Center for Human Rights in Iran, said the “so-called ‘pardon’ is nothing but a shameless public relations stunt.”
In comments shared with Worthy News, Ghaemi stressed that it “shows the completely arbitrary nature of justice in the Islamic Republic, where arrests and releases are at the whim of the state.”
Moslem was detained in February 2020 along with other house church members in the city of Rasht, according to Christians familiar with the case. “They attended a hearing at Branch 10 of the Revolutionary Court in Rasht to face charges related to house church membership. And they continued to be detained until the bail demand was reduced from 500 million tomans (then approximately $30,000) to 200 million tomans (approximately $12,000),” MEC recalled. “Moslem was then released on bail on May 20, 2020.”
Yet on August 1, 2020, they were reportedly each sentenced to between two and five years in prison for ‘actions against national security’ and ‘attending home churches.’
Moslem received a four-year prison sentence upheld on appeal in September 2020, MEC said. “Moslem turned himself in to Evin Prison on January 9 last year to release the bail submitted by a friend.”
It urged Christians to pray for Moslem and his family as well as that other Christians, including Pastor Yousef Nadarkhani, “will be included in the pardon and released from prison.”
MEC said it was crucial for Iran to “stop the criminalization of Christian converts” who have mainly a Muslim background “and other religious adherents who are not recognized by the state.”
Iran’s Islamic leaders have faced numerous protests in recent months sparked by the death in police custody of a young woman detained for allegedly not wearing the hijab properly.
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