Petition Tag - apostasy

1. Free Iranian Christian Ebrahim Firouzi, Serving 5-Year Sentence For Peaceful Missionary Activities

MARCH 29, 2017--The five-year prison sentence against Christian convert Ebrahim Firouzi for his alleged missionary activities has been confirmed by the Appeals Court in Tehran, the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI) has learned.
The ruling, issued on January 15, 2017, also requires Firouzi to spend two years in exile in the village of Sarbaz in a remote part of Sistan and Baluchistan Province, according to an informed source who spoke to CHRI on the condition of anonymity.
The 32-year-old welder has been held in Ward 12 for political prisoners in Rajaee Shahr Prison in Karaj, 32 miles west of Tehran, since 2014. He has been prosecuted three times since 2010 for converting from Islam to Christianity and allegedly organizing Christian religious meetings.
When he was first arrested in January 2010, interrogators offered Firouzi freedom if he declared himself a Muslim. He chose prosecution and was convicted by the Revolutionary Court in Karaj of “propaganda against the state” for his religious conversion and alleged missionary activities and sentenced to five months in prison with an additional five-month suspended prison sentence.
Firouzi was freed on June 8, 2011, but on March 8, 2012 he was arrested again for allegedly “attempting to create a website teaching about Christianity” (in order to convert people) and again charged with “propaganda against the state.”
He was sentenced to one year in prison and two years in exile by Judge Hassan Babaee of the Revolutionary Court in Robat Karim, 16 miles southwest of Tehran. The decision was upheld on appeal.
The third arrest took place on September 16, 2014. During interrogations in Evin Prison’s Ward 240, Firouzi was put under intense pressure to issue a false confession in return for freedom, but refused, according to an informed source.
In April 2015, Firouzi was sentenced to five years in prison for allegedly “creating a group with the intention of disturbing national security” by Judge Mohammad Moghisseh of Branch 28 of the Revolutionary Court.
Based on the decision by the Appeals Court, Firouzi will remain incarcerated until 2019.
Despite President Hassan Rouhani’s pledges during his election campaign in 2013 that “all ethnicities, all religions, even religious minorities, must feel justice,” the targeting of Christian converts has continued unabated under his administration.
SOURCE: Center For Human Rights In Iran

2. Free Iranian Student Hesam-Aldin Farzizadeh, Sentenced To Death For Apostasy

Hesam-Aldin Farzizadeh, an Expelled student in the field of nuclear physics of Mohaghegh University in the city of Ardebil, Iran was reportedly sentenced to death because of writings of his which were critical of Islam. Illegally, he is being denied access to a lawyer.

Hesam, 22, was charged with apostasy, propaganda for "seductive faiths" and blasphemy by the court according to the news received by VOCIR.

Security forces arrested him on 21 Nov 2013 and transferred to the prison of Meshkin Shahr city. The young writer suffers from depression and obsessive-compulsive disorder.

He is kept in the non-political ward among addicts and gangs because there is no special ward for the prisoners of conscience. The religious critic had frequently begun hunger strikes that led him to lose weight as well.

He has allegedly been accepted to Stanford University in Palo Alto, California.

3. Free Iranian Christian Pastor Farhad Sabokrooh And His Wife Shahnaz Jayzan

AUGUST 13 2013-- The authorities of the Islamic Republic of Iran have denied furlough from prison for Christian Pastor Farhad Sabokrooh of the Rabani community church of Ahwaz and his wife Shahnaz Jayzan.

According to a report by Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA), the judge in the court denied the furlough of the Pastor and his wife on the pretext that the dossier of Farhad Sabokrooh has been lost.

With the existence of several copies from a dossier, losing a dossier is not such a normal occurrence though.

Farhad Sabokrooh and Shahnaz Jayzan were sentenced to one year imprisonment by the revolutionary court on charges of Conversion from Islam to Christianity, encouraging the conversion to Christianity of other Muslims, and propagating against the regime by promoting Christianity as missionaries.

Farhad Sabokrooh and his wife Shahnaz Jayzan are currently serving their sentences in Karoon prison of Ahwaz.

Pastor Farhad Sabokrooh, his wife Shahnaz Jayzan and church workers Naser Zaman-Dezfuli and Davoud Alijani were initially arrested in December 2011, after authorities in the southern town of Ahwaz raided their church’s Christmas celebrations and detained everyone in the building, including children attending Sunday School.

According to Iranian agency Mohabat News, all four were charged with “converting to Christianity and propagating against the Islamic Republic through evangelism”, and were each sentenced to one year in prison by the Revolutionary Court in Ahwaz. They were temporarily released, but were summoned to court on 1 May 2013 and re-arrested. Mr Alijani was transferred to Ahwaz’s Karoon Prison to complete his sentence, while Pastor Sabokrooh, Shahnaz Jayzan and Mr Zaman-Dezfuli were taken to Sepidar Prison.

4. Overturn the Death Sentence of Iranian Christian Youcef Nadarkhani for "Apostasy"

Mohammad Ali Dadkhah, lawyer for Youcef Nadarkhani, a Protestant Christian pastor charged with apostasy, refuted reports by some media outlets that his client’s death sentence has been upheld. “Fortunately, on Tuesday, 27 June, Youcef Nadarkhani’s death sentence was overturned by the Supreme Court in Qom and it is on hold until Mr. Nadarkhani repents [i.e. renounces his Christianity]. But still, in this ruling it has been stipulated that in case Nadarkhani does not repent, his case file would once again be sent back to the lower court in Rasht. In a way, a complete overturning of the apostasy verdict depends on Nadarkhani’s repentance,” he told the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran.

“Because apostasy is not mentioned in Iran’s penal code, and apostasy is not considered a crime, then the court has to consider Mr. Nadarkhani’s case in the context of [the crime] ’insulting the Prophet of Islam.’ In this respect, since my client has not made any insults, he can tell the same to the court. Anyhow, that is all in the future and has to do with my client’s explanation. I am hoping that the death sentence will never be confirmed,” said Mohammad Ali Dadkhah about his client’s repentance.

Previously, family members and associates of Nadarkhani told the Campaign that officials from the Judiciary and the Ministry of Intelligence tried to force the pastor to repent and renounce his Christian conversion. So far, Nadarkhani has maintained that he has never done anything against Islam and will not renounce his faith. “Pastor Youcef has not budged,” said a close associate of his from Rasht.

Youcef Nadarkhani is a 32-year old pastor who was born to Muslim parents. He converted to Christianity at the age of 19. Before his arrest in October 2009, Nadarkhani led a congregation of about 400 Christians in Rasht. The congregation is part of a nationwide evangelical group called the Church of Iran, many of whose members have been arrested and prosecuted since 2009. On 23 August 2010, Nadarkhani’s apostasy death sentence was upheld by Branch Eleven of the Appeals Court of Gilan Province. Nadarkhani is currently being held in Rasht Prison, where he was able to visit with his wife in March, after having not seen each other in a long time. Ever since he has once again been denied visitation with his family.

NOTE: Pastor Nadarkhani's lawyer Mohammad Ali Dadkhah, mentioned above, has himself been sentenced to nine years in prison for his work as a human rights lawyer. He is appealing this draconian sentence. Please also sign the petition calling for the overturn of this illegal sentence:

If the death penalty is carried out, it will be the first official hanging for apostasy and conversion to Christianity in the last twenty years.

On December 3, 1990, Pastor Hussein Sodmand was hanged in Mashhad Prison for refusing to give up his Christian faith. Pastor Sodmand is the only priest who has been officially executed by the Islamic Judiciary Branch for apostasy and conversion to Christianity.