Two Iranian Christians at their final appeal hearing were ordered by a court to renounce their Christian faith to gain their freedom but they refused to do so.
Christian Solidarity Worldwide said the hearing took place on Tuesday in Tehran, where Christians Saheb Fadaie and Fatemeh Bakhteri were ordered by presiding judges Hassan Babaee and Ahmad Zargar to turn away from their religion.
The believers, who refused to comply, have been convicted of “spreading propaganda against the regime,” and are waiting to hear their final verdict. In September, Fadaie was sentenced to 18 months in prison, along with two years of internal exile, while Bakhteri was sentenced to one year in prison.
The Christians were arrested and convicted for discussing Christian doctrine in a house church, which was deemed to be an attack on Islam, the dominant religion in Iran.
Fadaie is already serving a 10-year prison sentence in the notorious Evin prison in Tehran, convicted in July 2017 along with three other Christians “for acting against national security” by “promoting Zionist Christianity.”
CSW’s Chief Executive Mervyn Thomas argued that Fadaie’s and Bakhteri’s convictions not only go against their right to religious freedom, but also “criminalizes the Christian faith, which the Iranian Constitution purports to recognize.”
“It is deeply concerning that Judges Babaee and Zargar are presiding over their appeal, especially in view of the unacceptable demand for them to renounce their faith; the rejection by these judges of a previous appeal involving Mr. Fadaie, and the allegations that both judges are implicated in human rights violations,” Thomas added.
The CSW head insisted that the two Christians deserve due process and to have their verdicts overturned.
“We also continue to urge the Iranian government to cease all forms of harassment and intimidation of peaceable religious communities, and to release all those detained in connection with their religion or belief,” he said.
In October, a ministry helping Iranian believers told The Christian Post that it was witnessing one of the “fastest growing underground church movements” in the world.
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SOURCE: Christian Post, Stoyan Zaimov