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June 01, 2005

Iranian Christian acquitted of charges of proselytizing

From Compass Direct:

An Islamic court in southern Iran acquitted Christian lay pastor Hamid Pourmand on charges of apostasy and proselytizing two days ago, declaring, “Under sharia (Islamic law), there are no charges against you.”

During a May 28 court hearing in Bandar-i Bushehr, Pourmand’s judge declared he was acquitting Pourmand, a former Muslim who converted to Christianity 25 years ago, because he had “done nothing wrong” according to Islamic law.

Pourmand’s surprise acquittal in a single hearing was reported yesterday by the Farsi-language ISNA news agency, quoting the jailed Christian’s lawyer as its source. “Since then, the news of Hamid’s acquittal has appeared on many well-known Farsi websites,” an Iranian Christian confirmed to Compass today.

Hamid Pourmand is still in jail serving a military sentence for the more or less the same “crime”.

Pourmand, 47, was arrested last September by the Iranian security police while attending a church conference near Tehran. An army colonel, he was also serving as lay pastor for an Assemblies of God congregation in the southern port city of Bandar-i Bushehr.

After five months of interrogation in strict solitary confinement, Pourmand was arraigned in February before a military court, accused of “deceiving the Iranian armed forces” by not reporting his conversion to Christianity. Despite clear-cut evidence to the contrary, he was ruled guilty, dishonorably discharged and handed down the maximum three-year prison sentence for his “crime.”...

For the past nine months, the lay pastor has been subjected to repeated pressures to recant his Christian faith and return to Islam in order to escape execution for apostasy, as required under the theocratic laws of Iran.

Pourmand’s lawyer has appealed the military court conviction on the basis of written documents signed by the former army colonel’s superiors, proving that they knew he had become a Christian. The military tribunal which convicted Pourmand in February had rejected the documents as falsified.

Like I've said, that's showing very little faith in your religion when you feel you need to use force and threats to keep people from leaving it.

Posted by Danny Carlton at June 1, 2005 07:41 AM

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