Iran Authorities Whipping Christian Couple For "Apostasy", Investigators Report

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

By BosNewsLife News Center

TEHRAN, IRAN (BosNewsLife) -- An Iranian Christian couple have been punished by whipping for "apostasy" from Islam in a case that has underscored concerns about widespread persecution of Christians in Iran, a well-informed advocacy group said Tuesday, November 6.

Barnabas Fund, which has close ties with reportedly persecuted Christians in predominantly Muslim nations, told BosNewsLife that "six officials", most likely of the feared religious police, visited the couple's home in September to carry out the punishment. Their names were not released, apparently because of security concerns.

"The husband is indeed a former Muslim, who became a Christian many years ago, but the wife was born into an Assyrian Christian family and has never been a Muslim," Barnabas Fund explained.

It said charges against them were linked to their marriage seven years ago. The couple married under Islamic Law because they apparently could not find a church willing to marry them because of their different backgrounds. The Justice Court of Revolution said that "when non-Muslims marry under Islamic law they are considered to have converted to Islam.


"They allegedly violated that principle because "in reality they are convinced and practising Christians," Barnabas Fund explained. In September 2005, "the couple were among a group of Christians who were arrested while meeting for worship in a home in a town north-west of Tehran," Barnabas Fund said.

In July this year the couple's case came to court where they apparently admitted they were Christians. "Because the law considered them Muslim, this led to the court's ruling that they were both apostates from Islam, and hence the brutal punishment."

These are no isolated cases, BosNewsLife learned. Despite the dangers, Iranian Christians staying outside the country plan to return, BosNewsLife learned. The Iranian Church Netherlands said last week it plans to train 4,000 Iranian Christians who fled their country to return to Iran to preach the Gospel.

There are an estimated 40,000 Iranian exiles living in the Netherlands. (With reporting by BosNewsLife's Eric Leijenaar and Stefan J. Bos).

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