Iranian Christian Convert Sentenced to Deprivation of Education

Michael Ireland

TEHRAN (ANS) -- In the latest approach of the Islamic Republic of Iran to oppose the growth of Christianity, a Christian convert was sentenced to one year of deprivation of education by a Revolutionary Court in Tehran.

According to the Iranian Christian news agency Mohabat News, Ms. Fatemeh Nouri, an art student in one of the universities in Tehran (the name of the university is withheld for security reasons) was sentenced to one year of deprivation of education by the Revolutionary Court for believing in Christianity.

Mohabat News says Ms. Nouri is a Christian convert who was arrested by security authorities on September 2011 at her residence in east Tehran and then transferred to Evin prison.

In an online report, Mohabat News says Ms. Nouri was convicted on charges of "attending a house church, insulting sacred figures, and activities against national security" in Revolutionary Courts branch of Moalem Street. The judge's ruling was one year deprivation of education for her.

“This Christian convert was released on November 30, 2011, after nearly three months in prison, but the sentence of deprivation of education remained in place,” Mohabat News stated.

The news agency said Ms. Nouri's arrest was related to the case of another Christian convert, Leila Mohammadi.

Commenting on the case, Mohanat News said: “It's notable that Ms. Mohammadi was found guilty of ‘collaborating with foreign-dependent groups, broad anti-Islamic propaganda, deceiving citizens by forming what is called a house church, insulting sacred figures and activities against national security’ by the Revolutionary Court branch of Moalem Street on January 18, after enduring five months in custody. However, the judge acquitted her of the charge of ‘collaborating with foreign-dependent groups’ for he believed that the crime was done unintentionally. Therefore, this Christian convert was sentenced to two years in prison and the ruling was delivered to her.”

Sentence of Deprivation of Education is Against the Law

Mohabat News explains that although the Iranian constitution clearly affirms religious freedom for followers of non-Islamic faiths, the Islamic Republic regime has by its actions proved that it not only violates its own domestic laws but does not even show respect to international conventions and is careless in their enforcement.

Mohabat News stated: “Prior to this case, such rulings were an instrument in the hands of the regime to pressure the Bahaei community or a group of dissatisfied university students, but today they are used to threaten and pressure Christians as well. It seems that prior to Ms. Nouri's case such sentences were not issued for Christian converts. This shows that previous methods of the regime for opposing Christians were ineffective.”

The news agency goes on to say that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which was adopted on December 10, 1948, “considers the rights of education as a right for all mankind regardless their race, color, belief, religion and gender.” According to this, everyone has the right to education (Section 1, Article 26 of The Universal Declaration of Human Rights).

Mohabat News concluded: “In the past, after identifying university students who had converted from Islam to Christianity, the Islamic Republic had made some efforts against them in holding Islamic courses to guide them to its own chosen way which is nothing other than Islam.

“So, they were trying to impact these students' thoughts and change them through discussions. However, it seems that failure of these former approaches has caused the regime to use deprivation of education or expulsion from universities as a new way to oppose the growth of Christianity and put pressure on Christian converts and their families.”

Michael Ireland is the senior international correspondent for the ASSIST News Service. He is an international British freelance journalist who was formerly a reporter with a London (United Kingdom) newspaper and has been a frequent contributor to UCB UK, a British Christian radio station. While in the UK, Michael traveled to Canada and the United States, Albania,Yugoslavia, Holland, Germany,and Czechoslovakia. He has reported for ANS from Jamaica, Mexico, Nicaragua, Israel, Jordan, China and Russia.

Publication date: February 14, 2012