Ten Iranian Christians, eight of whom had already been cleared of previous charges, have been ordered to attend Islamic “re-education” classes in a move their attorneys say is illegal according to the country’s laws.
Late last month, the Christians, from the town of Dezful, were contacted over the phone by members of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and told to visit them in person, the Iranian human rights watch organization Article 18 reported.
Their attorneys warned them that it was illegal for authorities to summon citizens to appear over the phone, but out of fear, the men showed up the following morning.
“I told my clients not to go, and to say, ‘We have a lawyer, so summon us legally,’” Iman Soleimani said. “But they were anxious and worried.”
The men were told that because they had been “misled,” that sessions with Islamic clerics would be arranged so as to “guide them back onto the right path.”
Just two months ago, eight of the men were cleared by a prosecutor in the Civil and Revolutionary Court of Dezful after initially being arrested by the IRGC.
The prosecutor noted that the men had “merely converted to a different religion” and since they did not “carry out any propaganda against other groups,” that while “apostasy” from Islam was certainly subject to punishment according to Sharia law “and in the hereafter” that it was “not criminalised in the laws of Iran.”
Article 18 notes that “Such so-called ‘re-education’ sessions have become much more common in recent years, even appearing in the list of ‘corrective punishments’ on official court papers,” and that the organization plans to issue a report on the practice in the future.
If you appreciate the work we are doing for faith, family, and freedom, please consider a small donation to help us continue. Thank you so much!