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Inquiry hears Iranian stories

26 April 2012

by Madeleine Davies

A YOUNG Iranian mother who was forced to choose between her daughter and her faith has given evidence to an inquiry into the per­secuted Church in Iran conducted by Chris­tians in Parliament.

Speaking to Christian MPs in the House of Commons on Monday of last week, she described how, after her husband had left her, a family court removed her daughter, aged two-and-a-half, from her custody, citing her Christian faith as the reason.

“They said: ‘If you say to us you are not Christian, we can give you back your daughter,’” she said. “I love her so much, and on the other hand that was my Christian faith. In one second, I felt the presence of God around me, and I remembered I am a Christian, and I cannot deny my faith.”

She has not seen her daugher in more than ten years, but continues to work in Christian ministry.

The inquiry also heard from Vahik Abrahamian, an Armenian-Iranian Christian pastor and former drug addict, who began working with drug addicts in Iran after his conversion to Christianity. He was first ar­rested for his Christian work in Iran in February 2010, and in September 2010 he and his wife, and a number of fellow house-church members, were held for 44 days.

The group was imprisoned for eight months before charges were made against them, and Mr Abrahamian was arbitrarily held for four months following the acquittal from the court.

“It is very important for the world to know what is the condition of Christians in Iran,” he told MPs, and he urged them to take action. “When pressure is exerted, it is very effective in Iran.”

A senior Iranian church leader, Sam Yegh­nazar, described to MPs the imprison­ment and interrogation of Christians.

The session ended with the screening of a message from Hossein Jadidi, a human-rights lawyer, who converted to Christianity from a Sufi Muslim faith in 2006.

He told the inquiry that although the Iranian constitution recognises Judaism, Zoro­astrianism, and Christianity, a “serious contradiction exists whereby the penal Islamic laws take precedence over the constitution”.

Any Muslim who gives up Islam is con­sidered an “apostate”, for which the penalty for men is death, and for women, life in prison. Most Christians are charged under law as a “threat to national security”, he said.

Last month, the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Iran reported “allegations that produce a striking pattern of violations of fundamental human rights guar­anteed under international law”.

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