Iran Court Releases Christian Convert on Bail

A Christian Iranian man officially accused with drug charges but said to be imprisoned for abandoning Islam was released on bail late last month, according to reports on Monday.

Issa Motamedi Mojdehi, 31, who converted from Islam to Christianity seven years ago was released on bail on Aug. 24 under the guarantee of another Christian, reported Compass Direct News. He was arrested on July 24 on charges of drug trafficking by the Iranian secret police.

According to the persecution news agency, secret police officials told Motamedi Mojdehi that his real offense, recorded in his confidential legal file, was abandoning Islam. Iranian police officials supposedly demanded he renounce Christianity or remain in jail or face possible execution.

According to the World Evangelical Alliance (WEA), Motamedi Mojdehi and his wife Parvah, had sparked attention from authorities when they chose a Biblical name for their newborn son, Micah. WEA sources explain that the parents’ action is interpreted as a sign of an irrevocable break with Islam because it demonstrates that their child was born to Christian parents and will be identified as Christian from birth – and thus cannot be accused of apostasy.

Meanwhile, as Motamedi Mojdehi’s conversion case remains unresolved, ex-Iranian President Mohammad Khatami is scheduled to speak Thursday at Washington’s National Cathedral on the role of the Abrahamic faiths in the peace process. Khatami’s speech topic has come under fire from the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) chair, which highlighted the “troubling irony” of inviting a man who presided as president over a country notorious for systematic harassment, torture, and even execution of religious minorities to speak on the role of faiths in the peace process, according to a release by USCIRF.

In Iran, charges related to drug abuse is commonly used by authorities to give credibility for cases such as Motamedi Mojdehi, reported Compass Direct. Radio Free Europe in a June 26 report stated that Iranian officials have confirmed that over 60 percent of the nation’s prisoners are held on drug-related charges. Moreover, the director of the Iranian National Center for Addiction Studies last year estimated that 20 percent of the Iranian population is “somehow involved in drug abuse” – making Iran the country with the world’s highest drug addiction rate.