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Teheran — Two members of a Protestant Christian community in Iran have been accused of “spreading corruption in the world.” Two other Christians, Iranian Pastor Matthias Haghnejad and layman Silas Rabbani have been accused of the same crime. Days ago Pastor Behnam Irani was informed of 18 criminal charges lodged against him, including “enmity towards God” and spying.
These cases reveal that Iranian authorities still apply strong pressure on Iranians who convert to Christianity. The NGO Christian Solidarity Worldwide says that these cases are part of an escalation in a campaign against Iranians who convert to Christianity. Such persons are charged with “crimes against the State” or “crimes against social order” and risk even capital punishment.
In 2014, in fact, eight men accused of the same crimes were executed. Among them poet and cultural rights activist Hashem Shaabani. Very often the accused are tortured to extract false confessions or found guilty in fake trials without witnesses.
Christian Solidarity Worldwide is concerned about the intensification of this campaign because “these false accusations are accusations against Christianity itself.” The NGO calls for the immediate release of all Christians detained because of their beliefs.