- 2018Aug 17
August 17, 2018 (Morning Star News) – A convert from Islam in Iran said he and 11 other Christians were sentenced to a year in prison for “inclination to the land of Christianity” among other charges, according to Mohabat News.
“Interrogations were obviously indicating that they were looking for confession to communications with [those] abroad, especially America, Britain and Israel,” the Christian, identified as Payam Kharaman, told Mohabat, which focuses on human rights abuses in Iran.
Mohabat reported last week that Kharaman and 11 other members of a church in Bushehr, a port city in southwestern Iran, were sentenced to one year in prison on charges of “propaganda activities against the system and in favor of Zionist Christianity through holding house meetings, evangelism, and invitation to Christianity and inclination to the land of Christianity.”
Kharaman and the other Christians were jailed for three years following their arrest on April 7, 2015, obtaining bail only last April, according to Mohabat.
Judge Abbas Asgari of the Islamic Revolutionary Court of Bushehr issued the sentence earlier this year, saying the accused would be informed last June 20, according to the verdict.
Kharaman told Mohabat News that authorities began pressuring him in early 2012.
“I was repeatedly summoned by the Office of Police Monitor Public Place in Bushehr and interrogated about evangelism and communication with abroad, and I always insisted on the belief in Christianity for myself and not for promotion of Christianity,” he told Mohabat. “Because I had a boutique shop in Bushehr, a number of officers’ family members in the office knew me and informed of heavy sentences against me, and the case which was under investigation by the intelligence office.”
He said he took their statements as empty threats at the time.
On April 7, 2015, three plain-clothes security agents came to his house with a warrant shortly after 8 a.m. and seized his computer, mobile phone, flash drive, CDs, books and pamphlets and a private photo album, he told Mohabat. They took him to the intelligence office of Bushehr and interrogated him all day, he said.
Among those sentenced along with Kharaman was Shapour Jozi and his wife, Parastoo Zariftash.
“In the part of the verdicts issued,” Jozi, also a convert from Islam, told Mohabat, “[it] was hinted that many books and pamphlets, publications, CDs, banners, a lectern painted with a cross for holding prayer and lectures, the Holy Gospel, computer case, the boards painted with signs of Christianity, tablet, mobile phone and statue were discovered, all of which were seized in favor of the government.”
Mansour Borji of advocacy group Article 18 reportedly suspects that security agencies’ inability to stop the spread of Christianity in Iran has led them to try to eliminate Farsi-speaking churches “through unlawful pressures and false accusations in revolutionary courts and seemingly legal routes.”
“The harassment of religious minorities, particularly Christians, has been mandated for the Islamic Republic’s security apparatuses,” he said, according to Mohabat. “Many Iranian Christians have preferred to abandon their homes in the last two decades and leave Iran to avoid the securities and judges.”
Three Christians in Iran were arrested from their homes on July 24-25 following the violent arrest of pastor Yousef Nadarkhani on July 22. Pastor Nadarkhani, a convert from Islam like the others arrested, was awaiting a summons to begin a 10-year prison sentence after his appeal of a conviction for “propagating house churches” and promoting “Zionist Christianity” was upheld in May.
Iran is a signatory to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which guarantees the right to change one’s religion. Additionally, Article 23 of the Iranian Constitution states that “the investigation of individuals’ beliefs is forbidden, and no one may be molested or taken to task simply for holding a certain belief.”
The U.S. State Department has designated Iran as a Country of Particular Concern for severe religious freedom violations, and the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom this month recommended it remain on the list.
Iran ranked 10th on Christian support organization Open Doors’ 2018 World Watch List of the 50 countries where it is most difficult to be a Christian.
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Publication Date: August 13, 2018
Photo Courtesy: Morning Star News/Wikipedia
Publication Date: August 13, 2018
Photo Courtesy: Morning Star News/Wikipedia
- 2018Aug 17
The Pluralist reports that a young American couple was killed in last month in Tajikistan by Islamic-State terrorists.
According to The Pluralist, CBS News reported, Austin and Geoghegan, who were on a world bike trip, tragically lost their lives on July 29 when they, along with two other bicyclists – one from Switzerland and the other from the Netherlands – were hit by a car and then stabbed to death.
Jay Austin and Lauren Geoghean, both 29, were embarking on a world bicycle trip when they decided to bike in an area that The Pluralist reported, has high volumes of terrorist activity.
The idealistic couple quit their desk jobs last year in pursuit of adventure and to help other people plan their own adventures.
Austin said on his and Geoghean’s joint blog, "I’ve grown tired of spending the best hours of my day in front of a glowing rectangle, of coloring the best years of my life in swaths of grey and beige,” Austin continued saying, “I’ve missed too many sunsets while my back was turned. Too many thunderstorms went unwatched, too many gentle breezes unnoticed.”
After writing this, the couple prepared to go abroad and began documenting their trip on their Instagram accounts and their blog. The adventure seeking couple voiced that they wanted to bike this route to show that people are not evil as the “narrative” suggests.
Austin wrote in a blog post called “#22, Douar Sidi Mohamed Chelh, Morocco - Ceuta, Spain,” “You watch the news and you read the papers and you're led to believe that the world is a big, scary place. People, the narrative goes, are not to be trusted. People are bad. People are evil. People are axe murderers and monsters and worse.”
Austin Continued saying, “I don't buy it. Evil is a make-believe concept we've invented to deal with the complexities of fellow humans holding values and beliefs and perspectives different than our own.”
On July 25, Austin shared on Instagram that the couple had just reached the one-year mark of their journey. Sadly, their journey ended only a few days later.
While many are calling the couple naïve for entering this area, The Washington Post reports that expert on the area, Paul Stronski, rejects this idea. Stronski said, “Central Asia generally is fairly safe.”
Photo Courtesy: Unsplash/Oziel Gómez
- 2018Aug 16
On Wednesday news broke about the sexual assault of thousands of children by Catholic priests in six Pennsylvania dioceses. The release of the Pennsylvania grand jury report confirmed that approximately 300 priests sexually assaulted or molested thousands of children in the past seven decades. The report also laid claims that senior clergymen, like Archbishop Donald Wuerl, played large parts in covering up the crimes of the predator priests.
Since this news broke, many have been waiting for the church to respond. Instead, the church is handling the situation simply like, what many are calling, bad press. Sohrab Ahmari from the New York Post wrote that the Archbishop of Washington, Father Wuerl, and his colleagues “have treated the report as a PR headache rather than a moral and spiritual wake-up call.”
Fox 5 DC had the opportunity to sit down with Archbishop Wuerl in the wake of the report. Fox 5 reports that the Wuerl said, “My efforts from the time that I reached Pittsburgh onto today, I’ve tried to do my very best to deal with this whole question of allegations against a priest. Now, remember, we're dealing with a long spectrum of time so how we dealt with things in the late 80s and early 90s is different than the way we would today.” Wuerl continued saying, “How do you deal with an allegation, and remember now when an allegation comes forward that allegation often times ends up being one word against another.”
This response, among others, was not what people were looking for.
Yesterday, the commentary editor for the Washington Examiner, Tim Carney, took to twitter to voice his discontent saying, “So Cardinal Wuerl presided over my Mass today. He gave a statement at the beginning about the "stories" we may have heard. It was handwaving and diversionary. Shameful.”
Dr. Albert Mohler also chimed in to voice his disapproval of the actions of the Catholic church saying, “all of us should be outraged. Outraged not only that the abuse happened, but that the cover-up was so systemic.”
Many are calling for Wuerl’s resignation, but as of right now Wuerl is refusing to resign.
Photo courtesy:Unsplash/Josh Applegate