Sixteen Christian Converts Arrested…and Beaten (Iran)

Tehran, 29 July (AKI) – Sixteen Iranians who converted from Islam to Christianity were arrested on Tuesday in Malakshahr, on the outskirts of the central Iranian city of Isfahan.

The six women, eight men and two adolescents who were arrested were assisting in a conversion ceremony and baptism of three new members of the church at a private house that had been transformed into an evangelical church.

The owners of the home, an elderly couple, were allegedly beaten up before they were locked up in an unmarked lorry.

In April, 10 Christian converts were arrested in Shiraz.

The official evangelical churches in Isfahan received orders not to allow any Muslims to attend their ceremonies and not to facilitate in any way the conversions.

Iranian law does not stipulate any punishment for those who convert from Islam to other faiths, even if the converts are subject to repression.

A few months ago, the government presented a bill which is currently being discussed in parliament, to include in the penal code the crime of “Ertedad” which is the act of abandoning the Muslim faith.

If the parliament does approve the law, the punishment for abandoning Islam will be the death penalty.

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Iran hangs 17-year-old boy despite signing treaty banning execution of minors

Iran has hanged a 17-year-old boy despite pleas from the international community  for Tehran to honour treaties it has signed banning the execution of minors.

Mohammad Hassanzadeh was the second juvenile offender to be hanged in Iran this  year.

At least 30 youths who were under 18 when they committed offences have been  executed since 1990, seven of them last year alone.

More than 85 child offenders are currently on death row in Iran, the human  rights watchdog added.

Hassanzadeh, who was convicted of killing a 10-year-old boy when he was 15, was  hanged in a prison in the western city of Sanandaj on Tuesday, Iran’s daily  Kargozaran newspaper reported.

Two other juvenile offenders due to be executed for murder on Wednesday were  given a one-month reprieve in which to reach “blood money” agreements with the  families of their victims.

But on the same day eight men convicted of murder and rape were sent to the  gallows in Tehran’s notorious Evin prison, bringing to at least 100 the number  of executions in Iran this year.

Only China has a higher execution rate.

Hassanzadeh’s execution was “yet another blatant violation by the Iranian  authorities of their international obligations”, Amnesty International said.

Iran’s judiciary chief Ayatollah Hashemi Shahroudi had advised the local court  to settle Hassanzadeh’s case “through reconciliation” with his victim’s family  but no deal was reached, Kargozaran said.

Under Islamic sharia law, a victim’s family can spare a murderer from execution  by accepting “blood money”, or financial compensation. The culprit then serves  a prison sentence instead.

Human rights groups said Iran used to circumvent commitments not to execute  minors by keeping them on death row until they reached 18.

But Hassandzadeh was 17-and-a-half at the time of his hanging, Kargozaran said.

Human rights campaigners have also tried to raise the legal age of  responsibility under Iran’s Islamic legal system.

A boy is held punishable from  the age of 15 and a girl from the age of nine.

Iranis party to two international treaties that outlaw the execution of those  who were under the age of 18 at the time of their offence.

Capital crimes in the Iran include murder, rape, armed robbery, drug trafficking  and adultery.

Earlier this year Ayatollah Shahroudi ordered an end to public executions,  unless they had his special approval.

He also banned publishing pictures and  broadcasting video footage of executions.

The bans followed a spate of public executions last year which were widely  covered by the international media and provoked global condemnation.

One of the two youths given a temporary reprieve on Wednesday said he had  agreed to sign a confession without knowledge of its content after he had been  tortured.

“I am a 21-year-old, a young man who was only 16 when he entered prison. Like  any other teenager [I was] still living my children dreams,” Mohammad Feda’i  wrote in a letter obtained by Amnesty International.

“I was beaten and flogged  repeatedly… They hanged [suspended] me from the ceiling and left me with no  hope of living.”

Feda’i was convicted of a murder committed in a snooker club in 2004. Amnesty says he acted in self-defence and that he was convicted after an unfair trial.

The two treaties are the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Another Islam critic to be executed in Iran within days

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Dr. Foroud Fouladvand

This message comes from an Iranian ex-Muslim and lover of freedom in London:

Urgent Attention
Another free thinker is to be executed in Iran in the coming daysIt is with great regret that I inform all freedom loving people of the world that the Mullahs’ terrorist regime is about to execute one of Iran’s finest thinkers, a true patriot, scholar and historian.

Dr. Foroud Fouladvand is a dedicated monarchist, a Ferdousi expert as well as expert on the history of Iran and Islam.

A confirmed report sent to the office of Dr. Fouladvand in London from inside Iran suggests that Dr. Fouladvand and two of his compatriots are going to be executed on Saturday, May 31, 2008 or possibly even sooner.

The two men to be executed alongside Dr. Fouladvand are Mr. Nazem Schmidtt, an Iranian/American citizen, aka Simorgh, and Mr. Alexander Valizadeh, an Iranian/ German citizen, aka Koroush Lor.

Dr. Fouladvand, a British citizen, was known throughout the Iranian community for his open criticism of Islam and the Mullah’s tyranny.

Dr. Fouladvand, who is an expert on Islam, openly challenged the Qur’an in his daily television broadcasts for listeners both inside and outside Iran. His Television discussions were offensive to the Mullahs. On March 10, 2006, in a preplanned action, about 65 of his supporters refused to leave a Lufthansa plane in protest of the European Union’s policy of appeasement of the Mullahs’ regime.

Dr. Fouladvand was led to believe by an agent of the Mullahs’ regime posing as a monarchist activist from within Iran that there were many Iranian patriots inside Iran who believed in him, and that a meeting with them would be fruitful in organizing and uniting people inside Iran to oppose the Mullahs. On October 13, 2006, Dr. Fouladvand and a number of his friends, including the above-named men, left London for the Turkish/Iranian border. The last news of Dr. Fouladvand’s whereabouts was on January
17, 2007, when he was expected to meet the supposedly Iranian activists in the Kurdish province of Hakkary in Iraq, which is close to the Iranian border.

In January 2007, the agents of the Mullahs’ secret police arrested and smuggled these three men into Iran, where they were imprisoned and were subjected to torture.

Please contact anyone you can. Alert government officials, the press, the Amnesty International and the human rights organizations in your country of residence.

Ten Christian converts arrested (Iran)

Tehran, 28 May (AKI) – Ten Iranians who converted from Islam to Christianity in recent months have been arrested in the southern city of Shiraz.

According to Goodarz, a spokesperson for the Iranian converts, more than 35 of them have been arrested since the beginning of the year. Goodarz himself has taken refuge in Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates.

The new Majlis or Iranian parliament which met for the first time on Tuesday will be discussing in the coming weeks proposed laws presented by the government to reform the penal code.

Under the new law, anyone born to a Muslim father who decides to renounce Islam and convert to another faith, faces the death penalty.

The punishment is currently absent from the Iranian penal code even though in the past, dozens of Christian converts and followers of the Bahai faith have been hanged.

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Cleric ‘calls all feminists whores and foreign spies’

Tehran, 27 May (AKI) – A top Iranian cleric from the northeast, Ayatollah Ahmad Elmalhoda, has reportedly called feminists “whores and foreign spies”.

“These whores, clutching a piece of paper in their hands to gather signatures, are working for foreign powers and want to destabilise the Islamic Republic,” said Elmalhoda.

He is the highly influential prayer leader in the northeastern holy Shia city of Mashad.

Elmalhoda has called on the government to “intervene decisively against these whores, because it is improper to leave them to act with impunity.”

A few weeks ago, Elmalhoda said women who do not wear the Islamic veil as instructed “turned men into animals.”

Verbal attacks against feminists in Iran are also being accompanied by a vast judicial offensive.

Eight feminists involved in a campaign to gather “a million signatures in favour of equality” were recently given jail terms of various lengths and sentenced to public floggings.

The Iranian authorities have in the last two weeks censured twelve websites close to the feminist movement.