A SHARIA court has sentenced three Christians to 80 lashes each after finding them guilty of blasphemy for drinking holy communion wine.
Yaser Mosibzadeh, Saheb Fadayee and Mohammed Reza Omidi will be flogged in public after being arrested at a house church gathering in Rasht, Iran, earlier this year.
The trio spent weeks in prison before finally being released on bail, but will now be subjected to the cruel and degrading punishment after being found guilty by Islamist judges.
Security agents also raided the home of their pastor Yousef Nadarkhani and his wife Fatemeh Pasandideh and arrested them at the same time, but they were not detained.
Iranian authorities later charged converts Mosibzadeh, Fadayee and Omidi for consuming alcohol during a communion service.
It is not illegal for Christians to drink alcohol in Iran but under Islamic law, Muslims are forbidden from drinking and it is illegal for Muslims to convert.
The trio’s conversion from Islam to Christianity is not recognised by Iranian authorities who subscribe to Sharia law.
An Iranian court sentenced the trio to 80 lashes each as punishment for their actions.
Many people faint after eight strokes due to the severe pain of the barbaric corporal punishment, which was commonplace in the Middle Ages.
The group, alongside Nadarkhani, are also due to be sentenced for “action against national security” at a later date at the Revolutionary Court in Rasht.
Lawyers for the Christians are planning to appeal the flogging punishment, according to Middle East Concern.
Christian charity Release International is calling for the Iranian authorities to allow its citizens to choose their own faith and to acquit the group.
“Why is Iran refusing to allow its own citizens that most basic of all freedoms, the freedom to choose their own faith?
“These men have chosen to call themselves Christians. The state should respect that.”
Floggings in public squares regularly take place in Iran, with one man suffering 93 lashes in Ganaveh city last month.
Morality police have led the persecution. Iran is classed as one of the most dangerous places in the world for Christians, with the regime banning any Christian activity and monitoring underground churches.
At least 108 Christians have been arrested in the last year in Iran for their beliefs, with at least 90 being flung in jail for sticking to their faith.
Release International says the prisoners have been beaten and abused and threatened with death.
Around 90 per cent of Iran’s population is Shi’a Muslim, with nine per cent Sunni Muslim.
The remaining one per cent includes indigenous Christian Armenian and Assyrian communities, thought to number approximately 300,000 – though some recent unofficial estimates suggest this has dropped very significantly in recent years.
Posted by Women Against Shariah on Wednesday, November 16, 2016