According to the British Daily Mail, four Christians in Iran
will get 80 lashes each for drinking wine during a communion service and possessing a satellite antenna. This comes as another reminder that Iran, after electing Hassan Rohani
as president and despite promises to expand civil rights, still has a persecution policy carried out by the Ayatollahs.
As the Daily Mail reported, the men were sentenced on October 6 and given their verdict on October 20 with ten days to appeal the sentence after breaking the theocracy's laws.
Mervyn Thomas, Chief Executive of Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW), said: "The sentences handed down to these members of the Church of Iran effectively criminalize the Christian sacrament of sharing in the Lord’s Supper and constitute an unacceptable infringement on the right to practice faith freely and peaceably."
Wine drinking is forbidden in Islam. The Iranian authorities have also been struggling for years with the installation of pirated satellite dished that expose the country's citizens to foreign broadcasts, thus helping them bypass the strict censorship imposed by the regime.
Ahmed Shaheed, UN special envoy on human rights in Iran, said that it is common practice for Christians to be punished for violating theocratic laws, despite promises from President Hassan Rohani’s to scale back the harsh treatment.
In the UN report he wrote: "At least 20 Christians were in custody in July 2013. In addition, violations of the rights of Christians, particularly those belonging to evangelical Protestant groups, many of whom are converts, who proselytize to and serve Iranian Christians of Muslim background, continue to be reported."
In response to the report, the Iranian government criticized Dr Shaheed’s findings.
According to the Daily Mail, the Iranian government has cracked down on religious freedom in a bid to stop the increase of Christianity, seeing it as a threat to the country’s majority ultra-orthodox Shiite Islamic religion.
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