Three Iranian Christians are to appeal a sentence of 80 lashes they received for taking communion wine, Sight Magazine reports. They were charged with “acting against national security” and illegal consumption of alcohol during Holy Communion. According to Charisma News, non-Muslims are permitted to drink alcohol in Iran, but leaving Islam is forbidden, so any such conversions are not recognized.
The three Christian converts were sentenced on September 10th after just a 10-minute hearing. Several organizations, including UK-based religious freedom advocacy Christian Solidarity Worldwide, are calling for the charges to be dismissed.
Yasser Mossayebzadeh, Saheb Fadaie and Mohammad Reza Omidi were arrested on May 13th during a series of raids on the homes of Christians. Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani and his wife Tina were also arrested but released later that day.
Mervyn Thomas, chief executive of CSW, said, “The effective criminalisation of an important Christian sacrament is unacceptable and should not be occurring in a country with a constitution that not only recognises Christianity, but also states that no-one should be molested or taken to task simply for holding a certain belief.”
More than 200 Christians have been detained by Iranian officials since 2015, with at least 43 of which were arrested in August alone.
“The Iranian regime is conducting a very active campaign against house churches at the moment and leaders of house churches are harassed and put under pressure,” said Middle East Concern’s Rob Duncan.
Sightmagazinecomau. (2016). Sightmagazinecomau. https://www.sightmagazine.com.au/news/6536-three-iranian-christians-to-appeal-sentence-of-80-lashes-for-drinking-communion-wine
World watch monitor. (2016). Charisma News. http://www.charismanews.com/world/59900-government-arrests-3-believers-for-taking-communion
Premier. (2016). Premier. https://www.premier.org.uk/News/World/Flogging-threats-after-Iranian-Christians-drink-Communion-wine