Iran Human RightsIranian AG Pastor to Appear Before Sharia Court

Iranian AG Pastor to Appear Before Sharia Court

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Christian Post: An Assemblies of God lay pastor arrested seven months ago with more than 80 other Christian leaders must appear before the Islamic court of Iran within nine days, agencies reported Tuesday.
Iranian Christian Hamid Pourmand, who was arrested last Sept. 9, will be brought up before the Islamic court between Apr. 11 and 14. Christian Post

An Assemblies of God lay pastor arrested seven months ago with more than 80 other Christian leaders must appear before the Islamic court of Iran within nine days, agencies reported Tuesday.

Iranian Christian Hamid Pourmand, who was arrested last Sept. 9, will be brought up before the Islamic court between Apr. 11 and 14. According to a report released today by the Compass Direct news agency, the 47-year-old lay pastor is to face charges of apostasy from Islam and proselytizing Muslims to the Christian belief. An exact court date has not been released.

Pourmand spent several months in solitary confinement after his arrest on Sept. 9 when security police raided a church conference he was attending. He is the only one of more than 80 church leaders arrested at the conference who was not released.

On Feb. 16, Pourmand, an army colonel at the time of his arrest, was found guilty by a military court of “deceiving” the Iranian armed forces about his faith, despite evidence he produced to the contrary. According to the judge of the military court, his recent three-year sentence was given because Pourmand withheld from his superiors the information that he was a Christian. The Islamic regime in Iran has made it illegal for a non-Muslim citizen to serve as a military officer, since that puts him in a position of authority over Muslim soldiers.

Nina Shea of Freedom House in Washington D.C. labeled Pourmand’s verdict as “a shocking travesty of justice, even by Iran’s meager standards.” His arrest was also noted in the latest report on human rights in Iran released in March by the U.S. State Department.

Currently, the military court verdict is under appeal to the Supreme Court. However, with the judiciary’s threat to try Pourmand before a sharia court of Islamic law now being carried out, he could face the death penalty.

Pourmand and his wife Arlet, who is from an Assyrian Christian background, have two teenage sons, Immanuel and David. They were living in Bandar-i Bushehr, a southern port city where he served as volunteer lay pastor of a small Assemblies of God congregation.

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