Drinking Communion wine gets four Iranians 80 lashes each

Four Iranian men are due to get 80 lashes each for drinking communion wine during a “house church” service.

House churches are a way for Iranian Christians to gather in unofficial buildings to conduct Church services.

The Independent reports the four men, Behzad Taalipasand, Mehdi Reza Omidi, Mehdi Dadkakh and Amir Hatemi, were originally arrested in the middle of a service just before Christmas last year.

Finally sentenced for the crimes on October 6, their verdict was delivered on October 10. They have been given ten days to launch an appeal.

They were also charged for possessing a satellite radio.

The charges come as a United Nations report criticised the Islamic republic for persecuting non-Muslims.

Reacting to the punishment, Mervyn Thomas, chief executive of Christian Solidarity Worldwide said, “The sentences handed down to these members of the Church of Iran effectively criminalise the Christian sacrament of sharing in the Lord’s Supper and constitute an unacceptable infringement on the right to practice faith freely and peaceably”.

“We urge the Iranian authorities to ensure that the nation’s legal practices and procedures do not contradict its international obligation under the International Convent on Civil and Political Rights to guarantee the full enjoyment of freedom of religion or belief by all of its religious communities.”

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.

Ahmed Shaheed, UN special rapporteur on human rights in Iran, said that it is common practice for Christians to be punished for violating theocratic laws, despite promises from president Hasan Rouhani’s to scale back the harsh treatment.

An estimated 370,000 Christians live in Iran according to the latest report from the US State Department.

The death penalty is among the punishments for those who convert from Islam to Christianity.



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