Fatemeh Mohammadi reported detained in Tehran prison as Trump highlights arrest

Fatemeh Mohammadi reported detained in Tehran prison as Trump highlights arrest

US President Donald Trump highlighted Iran’s detention of 21-year-old Christian convert Fatemeh (Mary) Mohammadi as part of a high-profile annual presidential address yesterday, as reports claimed she is being held in a prison on the outskirts of Tehran.

“Weeks ago, a 21-year-old woman, who goes by the name of Mary, was seized and imprisoned in Iran because she converted to Christianity and shared the Gospel with others,” Trump said at the 68th annual National Prayer Breakfast in Washington DC.

It is now nearly four weeks since Mary’s disappearance, when she was reported arrested in Azadi Square, Tehran, as protests took place following the Iranian government’s admission of guilt in the downing of a Ukrainian passenger plane.

Until this week, there had been no news of her whereabouts and growing concern for her safety and wellbeing, as international news outlets reported her disappearance.

Then on Wednesday, Persian-language HRANA website reported that Mary was being held in Qarchak Prison, south of Tehran.

Article18 has not yet been able to independently verify these claims, and Advocacy Director Mansour Borji said he remains “deeply concerned” about Mary and called on the Iranian authorities to provide information about where she is being detained and on what charges.

Who is Mary Mohammadi?

Mary is a rare example of a Christian activist still living in Iran and had already spent six months in prison as a result of her Christian activity, for which she was convicted of “action against national security” and “propaganda against the system”.

In July last year Mary faced fresh criminal charges relating to her “improper” wearing of hijab. The charges, which were eventually quashed, were brought against her after she initially went to police to complain of an assault.

Then in December, Mary was kicked out of her Tehran university, without explanation, on the eve of her English-language exams.

She told Article18 she believed she had been expelled as a result of her prior conviction and human rights activism.

Mary said she believes not enough is known about the situation of Christians in Iran – particularly converts – compared to the significant amount of publicity and advocacy work relating to other rights issues.

Earlier this week fellow Christian activists Dabrina Bet-Tamraz, Maryam Rostampour and Marziyeh Amirizadeh also called for more noise to be made about the situation of Christians in Iran.

Dabrina specifically highlighted Mary’s case, saying: “She’s a young girl and nobody has any idea where she is right now. She’s been taken away for over three weeks now. We’ve called on every organisation to raise awareness and ask the [Iranian] government… [to] make them accountable, responsible for what they’ve done.”

Dabrina said she feared that if not enough noise was made about the situation of people like Fatemeh, someone like her may “go missing, and die, and nobody will ever talk about it”.

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