By Joseph DeCaro, Worthy News Correspondent
TEHRAN, IRAN (Worthy News)-- Five Christian converts from Islam who were arrested in Iran last year for evangelistic activities had to post large bail amounts to be released from prison.
Khataza Gondwe, a director for Christian Solidarity Worldwide, told Morning Star News that judges deliberately set excessive bail amounts to financially cripple the Iranian Christian community.
The five converts arrested last October were transferred to the Adel-Abad Prison, which houses hardened criminals: as many as 24 inmates are jammed into 250-square-foot cells.
Though none of the converts were assaulted while imprisoned, Gondwe said they were segregated from other prisoners for their faith.
“The five did not experience torture or other mistreatment while detained,” said Gondwe. “However, their movements and prison privileges were limited. They were not allowed out for exercise, could not use the library, and contact with other prisoners was also limited.”
Since evangelism is considered a crime against the Islamic state, anyone arrested for this charge can spend years in a legal limbo while awaiting a new hearing; the few who manage to make bail can flee the country, but only by risking those who posted their bail to financial ruin.
““There seem(s) to be a tendency to drive Christians out of the country," said Gondwe, "but now having paid bail, the person who paid it will lose it, and if it’s something like a title deed for a house, it’s doubtful they will be leaving.”
An estimated 100,000 converts clandestinely practice their Christian faith in the Islamic Republic where conversion from Islam to Christianity is punishable by death.
Iran is 98.6 percent Muslim; the number of Christians is estimated to be 384,897, only half of one percent of the population, according to Operation World.