Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Apostasy: Iran Releases Pastor’s Wife as Husband Faces Execution for Abandoning Islam


In 2008 the Iranian Parliament overwhelmingly voted for the death penalty for apostates from Islam ~ many of whom have converted to Christianity [although an increasing number are turning back to re-identify with Zoroastrianism] ~ of which a member of their parliament unofficial sources announced that there was an estimated 1 million secret Christians in the country. If they were to carry out their plan ~ could amount to genocide.

"We find ourselves facing what is more than a conversion to the Christian faith," he said. "It's a mass exodus from Islam."

According to unofficial sources, in the past five years, one million Iranians, particularly young people and women, have abandoned Islam and joined Evangelical churches. [AKI]

The Iranian Parliament voted in favor of a bill Tuesday [Sept. 9, 2008] that would punish apostasy with the death penalty, a human rights group reported.

Lawmakers approved the bill with 196 votes in favor, seven against, and two abstentions, according to U.K.-based Christian Solidarity Worldwide.

Reportedly, Iran had removed news of the bill’s approval from its Parliament website within hours of publishing it on Tuesday, according to CSW. But reports of the bill’s process in parliament was published by other official Iranian news agencies, including IRINN (Islamic Republic of Iran News Network) and morning papers inside Iran, such as Resalat. [CP]

Iran's government has reportedly expressed concern about the spread of Christianity among Muslims.

Christian observers have said the "elimination of religious minorities" has become a national priority. The pressure on the Church of Iran comes at a time of violent attacks against Christians, according to church groups.

Long established churches in Iran have been faced with closure, because former Muslims have been allowed to attend services.


It is easy to excuse this as being ~ only Iran or only Saudi Arabia ~ but look at the other Muslim nations ~ the story for apostates and freedom of religion is pretty much the same. We want to believe in an Islam ~ that simply doesn't exist. The only escape clause, is that here the law protects freedom of conscience ~ of which, western Muslims can lay claim to, and say that this is in line with 'true' Islam.



TEHRAN, IRAN (Worthy News)-- The wife of a prominent evangelical pastor in Iran was free Monday, October 18, after four months of detention, but her husband still faced the death penalty for abandoning Islam, the Church of Iran said.

Fatemeh Passandideh, the wife of Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani, was released October 11 by a court in Gilan province, in northern Iran, an official linked to the Church of Iran told Worthy News and its news partner BosNewsLife.

"The release of Fatemeh Passandideh comes ten days after the announcement of the death sentence for her husband Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani," he said, speaking on earlier agreed conditions of anonymity, amid security concerns.

Pastor Nadarkhani was convicted of "apostasy", or leaving Islam, last month by the 11th Chamber of the Assize Court of the province of Gilan. The pastor's attorney is expected to file an appeal against the ruling after he reportedly found "serious procedural flaws" in the case.

CHRISTIANS CONCERNED

Christians have expressed concerns about the case as the couple has two young sons. It comes amid reports of growing pressure on the Church of Iran, a Protestant movement which includes several underground house churches in the strict Islamic nation.

The church says it has been "the subject of a campaign of persecution, unprecedented since the advent of the [Islamic] revolution" in 1979, which saw the overthrow of Iran's monarchy and its replacement with an Islamic republic under revolution leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.

"Several members of the movement have been arrested since October 2009 among them [also] pastor Behrouz Khandjani, who is still in isolation in the sinister “plate 100” [prison] of Shiraz [area]."

Christian observers have said the "elimination of religious minorities" has become a national priority. The pressure on the Church of Iran comes at a time of violent attacks against Christians, according to church groups.

MISSION GROUP

Elam Ministries, a major mission group of Iranian church leaders, said it knows of at least one young Iranian Christian from a Muslim background who has died in recent weeks of injuries sustained when he was severely beaten by a relative.

The relative allegedly took exception to the "commitment to Jesus" of the man, who activists say leaves behind a wife and two young children. His name was not released.

Middle East Concern (MEC), a rights group with follows reports of Christian persecution, told BosNewsLife that other Christians also face persecution as at least three of 15 Christians detained in July in Mashhad, Iran's second largest city, remain detained and are "under pressure pressure to recant their faith but are refusing to do so."

Additionally in Ahvaz, the capital of Iran's Khuzestan province, an assistant pastor remains in custody after having been arrested during a raid on his home on July 24, MEC said. "His wife and young daughter were arrested with him and detained briefly," MEC added.

The names of those detained were not immediately released amid security concerns.

MORE DETENTIONS

MEC also cited a report on Iranian state television that in early September, nine believers were detained in Hamedan, the capital of Hamadan province, on charges of evangelism, which potentially carries the death penalty under strict laws in Iran.

Iran's government has reportedly expressed concern about the spread of Christianity among Muslims.

Elam Ministries said in 1979, there were less than 500 known Christians from a Muslim background in Iran.

"Today the most conservative estimate is that there are at least 100,000 believers in the nation."

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