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'Criminalisation of Christianity': Iranian pastor summoned to begin prison sentence

by Marcus Jones
Amin Khaki.jpg - Banner image

A pastor in Iran has returned to prison to begin a five year sentence, having been found guilty of spreading propaganda against Iran, a move described as amounting to a criminalisation of Christianity.

Pastor Amin Khaki has been in and out of jail over the past decade facing numerous charges linked to his faith.

He was released from his most recent time in prison last year, initially on temporary furlough before being given full freedom.

However in June this year, he was sentenced under new charges of "sectarian activities" under a new amendment to the Iranian penal code. 

Two other Christians, Milad Goudarzi and Alireza Nourmohammadi, were also found guilty.

Religious freedom charity Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) claims the men were prevented from seeing their lawyer despite filing all the necessary paperwork.

CSW's Founder President Mervyn Thomas said: "CSW is deeply disappointed by the news that Pastor Khaki has been required to start serving his sentence. 

"This sends yet another negative message to religious minorities in Iran, and essentially amounts to a criminalisation of Christianity. 

"We refute the charges levelled against Pastor Khaki and his colleagues, and we call upon the Iranian authorities to overturn them and release the pastor and all others detained under similarly unjustified charges immediately and without condition. We also call on the international community to press the Iranian government to end all forms of discrimination against religious minorities, and to uphold its international obligations to protect and respect the rights of all citizens regardless of their religious affiliation or ethnic background."

The three men are currently appealing their verdicts.

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