Three Christians are standing trial in Iran after a new amendment to the Iranian penal code was passed through the legislature, according to Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW).
The Christian defendants of the Church of Iran denomination of Christianity were put on trial in Karaj in northern Iran on Monday after converting to Christianity, being charged with “sectarian” activities.
The defendants, Amin Khaki, Milad Goudarzi and Alireza Nourmohammadi, originally stem from Muslim backgrounds.
The trial took place without the presence of lawyers as the presiding judge, Mehdi Zeilani, claimed the lawyers had not been registered to the defendants.
CSW confirmed that this was inaccurate and the lawyers had filled out the necessary requirements to defend the charged Iranians ten days before the trial commenced. On the day of the trial, the defendants were informed they would be representing themselves.
The defendants were accused of “engaging in propaganda against the Islamic regime,” and were released on bail, instructed to report to police weekly.
Additionally, they were advised to leave the country and not to pursue any mediation for the case. Seventeen other members of the church were also interrogated.
“The three men are reportedly being charged under a new amendment to the Iranian Penal Code known as Article 500-bis, which deals with ‘sectarian activities,’” CSW explained in a statement. “The amendment was passed by the Iranian Parliament (Majlis) and signed by outgoing president Hassan Rouhani in February 2021.”
“It states that ‘any deviant education or propaganda that contradicts or interferes with the sacred Islamic shari’a, will be severely punished,” it added.
Up until today, Christian converts living in Iran have traditionally been charged with “action against state security,” which stems from French law, and Iranian judges have used this in the past to crack down on people who convert to Christianity.
Source » iranbriefing