Muhammad said: “Whoever changed his Islamic religion, then kill him” (Bukhari 9.84.57). The death penalty for apostasy is part of Islamic law according to all the schools of Islamic jurisprudence. Yet Muslim spokesmen such as Harris Zafar, Mustafa Akyol, Salam al-Marayati, M. Cherif Bassiouni, and Ali Eteraz (among many others) have assured us that Islam doesn’t punish apostasy. I expect that Zafar, Akyol, al-Marayati, Bassiouni, and Eteraz will immediately jet over to Iran to explain to the authorities holding these converts that they are getting Islam all wrong, wrong, wrong.
It is now more than a year since these four Christian converts were arrested in Shiraz. They are still being held in Adel-Abad prison in a ward known as “Ebrat” (edification) awaiting the court’s decision.
According to Mohabat News, the four Christian converts’ latest trial was held on December 28, 2012 in Branch 3 of the Revolutionary court in Shiraz. Mr. Rashidi-poor presided over the court session, while the prisoners’ attorney was also present. The judge concluded the three hour long trial and announced that he will issue his verdict after Norouz Celebrations (March 21-25).
The Christian prisoners are Mojtaba Seyyed-Alaedin Hossein, Mohammad-Reza Partoei (also known as Koroush), Vahid Hakkani, and Homayoun Shokouhi. Since their arrest, they have been taken to the Revolutionary Court of Shiraz several times in a pitiful condition with their hands and feet chained, where their charges were officially announced as participating in house-church services, evangelizing and promoting Christianity, having contact with foreign Christian ministries, distributing propaganda against the regime and disturbing national security.
These four Christian converts were arrested as they gathered for worship in a house church on February 8, 2012. Security authorities who had identified the place beforehand, attacked and arrested these men together with some other attendees. They were mistreated and immediately transferred to prison.
As some reports indicate, during the hearing one of the court officials advised the families of these prisoners to change their attorney, because the judge had a serious issue with him.
On the other hand, it appears that following a similar pattern, judges and courts of Islamic Republic disregard the legal timeframe to issue decisions and do not care to deal with cases like this in a timely manner. It seems that they do so to put extra pressure on Christian prisoners and their families.
Keeping them in prison for more than a year in uncertainty, not granting them temporary leave permits and refusing to accept temporary release bails are considered obvious mental and physical torture of these Christian detainees.
Also, in some instances, judicial authorities pressure lawyers to reject their Christian clients. The uncertainty that Iranian authorities have shown toward these cases and the lengthy process for handling them encourages attorneys to refuse to defend Christians or to withdraw in the middle of the case.
Even before this, Iranian judicial authorities had stated that they would not accept bail for these Christians’ release.
Prison authorities in Adel-Abad prison ordered that seven or eight Christian converts held in that prison be transferred to a newly built ward known as the “edification ward”, where the least facilities are available….