An Iranian church leader, who is already in prison, faces the death penalty if he is found guilty by a shari’ah court.
Hamid Pourmand, 47, is scheduled to go before a shari’ah court in Bandar-i-Bushehr next week on charges of apostasy from Islam and seeking to spread the Christian gospel among Muslims. The former charge is punishable by death.
Pourmand, who was a Colonel in the Iranian army, was also a lay leader of the Assemblies of God church in Bandar-i-Bushehr, a southern port city in Iran. He was arrested along with 85 other church leaders at the annual meeting of the AOG church in Iran on Sept. 9, 2004 in Keraj. According to Middle East Concern and Compass Direct, he was the only one not to be released shortly after being arrested.
On Feb. 16 he was charged before a military court with deceiving the Iranian armed forces about his conversion nearly 25 years ago. Non-Muslims are not allowed to become officers in the army, but Pourmand provided evidence to the court that his superiors knew about his faith. This evidence was rejected as false and Pourmand was sentenced to three years in prison with the loss of all benefits. This meant losing his 20-year army pension and home and now his wife and two children have been evicted and have no source of income.
He is currently in a group cell at Evin maximum security Prison in Tehran. He is the first Iranian convert to be charged with apostasy since 1993. CSW is working with other NGOs to raise his case with the UK Foreign Office, the UN and the EU.
“Hamid Pourmand has already been stripped of his freedom and his job, and his family has been made destitute,” said Stuart Windsor, national director of Christian Solidarity Worldwide. “He now faces a death sentence if the shari’ah court finds him guilty. CSW calls on the international community to do all it can to put pressure on the Iranian authorities to safeguard his life.”
Let’s hope the Mullahs hear strong words from Secretary Rice about this.