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Second Christian convert flogged for drinking Communion wine

Second Christian convert flogged for drinking Communion wine

Saheb Fadaie.

Despite international condemnation of the recent flogging of an Iranian Christian convert for drinking Communion wine, a second convert has now received the same punishment.

Zaman Fadaie, who prefers to be called Saheb, received 80 lashes yesterday, one month and one day after his friend Mohammad Reza (Youhan) Omidi endured the same punishment.

Saheb is currently serving a six-year sentence in Tehran’s Evin Prison for organising house-churches and “promoting ‘Zionist’ Christianity”. 

His sentence was originally 10 years but was reduced at a retrial in June.

However, Saheb is still sentenced to six years in prison, followed by two years in internal exile after his release, while the 80 lashes related to a separate 2016 conviction for drinking wine as part of Communion.

As reported last month following Youhan’s flogging, in Iran it is illegal for Muslims to drink alcohol, but there are exemptions for recognised religious minorities, including Christians. However, converts like Youhan and Saheb are not recognised as Christians. (Christians around the world eat bread and share in one cup of wine as symbols of the body and blood of Jesus.)

A third convert, Mohammad Ali (Yasser) Mossayebzadeh, was also sentenced to the 80 lashes, but he was not summoned yesterday, and it is unclear if and when his sentence will be carried out.

It had been assumed that both Saheb and Yasser would be flogged after their release from prison, as happened in Youhan’s case. However, Saheb was summoned to the Shahid Moghadas Revolutionary Court next to Evin Prison yesterday, and told his sentence must be carried out then and there.

Article18 has no information on the injuries Saheb sustained during his flogging.

Reacting to the news, US State Department spokesman Gabriel Noronha tweeted that “ISIS, Al-Qaeda, and the Islamic Republic of Iran are birds of the same radical feather”.

What happened to Youhan?

Youhan Omidi.

Youhan was released from prison in August after completing his two-year sentence – reduced from 10 years at the retrial.

But a month later he began two years’ internal exile in the southwestern city of Borazjan, 1,000km from his home city of Rasht.

Then, after just one month in exile, Youhan received a summons to return to Rasht to receive his 80 lashes, but when he went to the local authorities in Borazjan to seek permission, they flogged him on the spot.

The US State Department condemned Youhan’s flogging, with spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus tweeting that the US was “deeply disturbed” by the “unjust punishments” of prison and lashes for practising one’s faith.