Four Iranian Christians are set to receive 80 lashes each as punishment for drinking communion wine at a house church, while Iran faced further criticism in a U.N. report on its human rights record.
"The sentences handed down to these members of the Church of Iran effectively criminalise the Christian sacrament of sharing in the Lord's Supper and constitute an unacceptable infringement on the right to practice faith freely and peaceably," said Mervyn Thomas, chief executive of Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW), who reported the news earlier this week.
"We urge the Iranian authorities to ensure that the nation's legal practices and procedures do not contradict its international obligation under the International Convent on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) to guarantee the full enjoyment of freedom of religion or belief by all of its religious communities." more >>
A U.S. pastor from California who was arrested earlier this week while protesting in front of Evin Prison in Tehran, Iran, where Pastor Saeed Abedini is set to return home on Wednesday, described the experience as an "honor."
Eddie Romero of Exodus8one, a faith group with a mission to "engage belligerent governments/societies (with respect to faith) directly in order to address the injustice towards Christians and other religious minorities," was arrested on Monday in Tehran in front of the prison. He had been shouting "let my people go" in the Farsi language, and demanded the freedom of four Christian converts and a human rights advocate being kept there, including Pastor Saeed Abedini.
Abedini, the Iranian-American pastor sentenced to eight years in prison, passed the 1-year mark of his imprisonment last month. His story has attracted major international attention, with President Barack Obama and hundreds of thousands of people around the world petitioning Iranian President Hassan Rouhani for his release. more >>
The European Parliament passed a resolution Friday calling for Iran to release Pastor Saeed Abedini, who has been imprisoned in the country for over a year for his Christian faith.
The American Center for Law and Justice has launched the largest campaign in its history to have Abedini released by sending thousands of letters to Iran's president Hassan Rouhani. The legal group announced Friday that in addition to this campaign, it has also successfully convinced members of the European Parliament to issue a resolution requesting Abedini's release. This effort was championed both by the ACLJ and its European affiliate, the European Centre for Law and Justice.
The resolution states that the European Parliament "[i]s deeply concerned about the fate of Pastor Saeed Abedini, who has been detained for over a year and was sentenced to eight years of prison in Iran on charges related to his religious beliefs," according to a press release composed by the ACLJ's Executive Director Jordan Sekulow. more >>
Pastor Saeed Abedini has found out that President Barack Obama spoke with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and pressed for his release last week, which is said to provide the American citizen a "glimmer of hope" that he might finally be released.
"Early Monday morning in Tehran, Pastor Saeed's Iranian family was able to sit and visit with him – through a glass partition – during regular visitation hours at Evin Prison," The American Center for Law and Justice (ALJ) said in a press release.
"For the first time, Pastor Saeed had a glimmer of hope that he would soon be released. Iranian news sources had reported on President Obama's phone call with President Rouhani." more >>
Iranian sources have claimed that CNN incorrectly translated a quote from President Hassan Rouhani that made him sound like he believes the Holocaust took place, and accused the American news network of "insulting the public understanding." Meanwhile, CNN has denied the accusations saying that the Iranian president was translated by a person supplied by the Iranian government itself.
"Now that the network knows the untrustworthiness of the translation, it has the responsibility to inform the public of the mistake and air the interview again, but this time with a deserving translation," the Iranian Fars News network said in a statement on Friday. "This plus a professional apology will be the least thing the American network can do to make up for its gross mistake, instead of whitewashing what, otherwise, would be the purposeful falsification of the remarks and views of the president of a world state and projecting the blame on others."
The incident in question refers to an interview Rouhani held with CNN's Christiane Amanpour, which aired on Wednesday, where according to the CNN translation, he says: "I am not a historian, and that when it comes to speaking of the dimensions of the Holocaust it is the historians that should reflect on it. But in general I can tell you that any crime that happens in history against humanity, including the crime the Nazis committed toward the Jews, as well as non-Jewish people, was reprehensible and condemnable as far as we are concerned." more >>
Two Christians are among the 11 prisoners of conscience released earlier this week by Iran, which has also been called to release other detainees, including American Pastor Saeed Abedini.
"CSW welcomes the release of Maryam Jaiili and Mitra Rahmati, Nasrin Sotoudeh and the other prisoners. While this positive step by the Iranian government is to be commended, it is by no means sufficient given the vast number of political prisoners and prisoners of conscience," Christian Solidarity Worldwide Chief Executive Mervyn Thomas said in a statement.
"CSW continues to call for the unconditional release of all of these prisoners, including Farshid Fathi, Benham Irani, Saeed Abedini, Shahin Lahooti, the seven Baha'i leaders, and others who belong to religious minorities and have been unjustly detained." more >>