Women to Hold Prayer Vigil Outside Iran Embassy for Release of Converts

Women dressed in white will hold a prayer vigil outside the Iranian embassy in London tomorrow to highlight the plight of two female Christian converts from Islam who have been jailed without charge for the last six months.

"Their health is now rapidly deteriorating due to the overcrowded conditions and limited facilities," reported Elam Ministries, a ministry that specializes in serving the growing church in Iran.

The vigil, expected to draw many Christian women from all over U.K., is being organized by Iranian Christian women, and is supported by Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW).

Maryam Rustampoor, 27, and Marzieh Amirizadeh, 30, were arrested on March 5 for leaving Islam. They were placed in a solitary confinement in the infamous Evin prison, deprived of medical attention and often blindfolded for interrogations for several hours for five months. They were tried after five months on August 9 and told to recant their faith.

Elam ministries reported earlier that the chief interrogator had recommended a verdict of apostasy. However, no verdict was pronounced and they were instead questioned about their faith. The women said they were Christians and while refusing to recant their faith said they "love Jesus."

They were then sent back to prison where they face the charge of apostasy which is punishable by death in Iran.

In Iran, apostates (Muslims who convert to another religion) often face arbitrary arrest, indefinite detention and a host of other human rights abuses.

CSW, a human rights organization specialized in defending the persecuted Christians around the world is calling on the Iranian government to release the "innocent" duo.

"We wholeheartedly stand in solidarity with Maryam and Marzieh, who are being held solely on the basis of exercising their most basic right: freedom of thought, conscience and belief," said Mervyn Thomas, chief executive of CSW.

"Scores of illegal detentions of Christian converts in Iran have been reported this year, and we strongly urge the Iranian Government to release these innocent women immediately."

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