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Rasht converts told to renounce their faith by appeal court judges

Rasht converts told to renounce their faith by appeal court judges

Two converts to Christianity were asked to renounce their faith during their appeal hearing on 15 January in Tehran.

Saheb Fadaee and Fatemeh Bakhteri

When Saheb Fadaee and Fatemeh Bakhteri refused, the presiding judges, Hassan Babaee and Ahmad Zargar, told them to expect their verdict in a few days.

Saheb was appealing against an 18-month jail sentence for “spreading propaganda against the regime”, issued in September 2018.

Fatemeh, who is 37, was appealing against her 12-month sentence on the same charge – which relates to the teaching given in their “house church” that Christ is Lord and the Bible is the ultimate authority. This was perceived as an attack against Islam.

Saheb was also sentenced to two years’ exile in Nehbandan, near the border with Afghanistan.

He is already serving a separate ten-year sentence, issued in July 2017, for forming a “house church” and “promoting Zionist Christianity”.

He was taken to serve that sentence in Evin Prison in July 2018, alongside his pastor, Yousef Nadarkhani, and two other members of their Rasht church – Mohammad Ali Mossabayeh and Mohammad Reza Omidi, who are both converts to Christianity.

Each of the five Christians were referenced in Article18’s inaugural annual report, released yesterday, which documents rights violations against Christians in 2018.