Iranian Christian convert Hamed Ashoori has been ordered to begin a ten-month prison sentence for “propaganda against the Islamic Republic” after his appeal was rejected on 26 June.
The 31-year-old resident of Fardis, west of Tehran, was immediately given ten days’ notice to present himself to prison authorities in Karaj to start his sentence.
On 7 March, 2021, Hamed was summoned to Karaj Revolutionary Court to answer the “propaganda” charges. The prison sentence was initially announced on 12 April, after which his appeal was heard.
Hamed was originally arrested by Ministry of Intelligence agents on leaving his home on the morning of 23 February 2019. The agents raided his home and confiscated Bibles and other Christian literature, in addition to computer hard drives.
Hamed was detained in prison in Karaj for twelve days, including ten in solitary confinement.
With another family member he was forced to attend a “re-education” programme with an Islamic cleric. Often such sessions are conducted with a pastoral caring attitude, a Barnabas source explained. The emphasis is on persuading the detainees that they have been brainwashed by Christians and need a more secure grounding in their knowledge of Islam. The offer is made to withdraw all charges if the convert agrees to attend several one-to-one sessions with the cleric.
When Hamed refused to take any further part after attending four of these sessions, court proceedings against him were initiated.
During interrogations, Hamed was offered money to inform on other Christians, and physically assaulted when he refused.
The case against Hamed was postponed by the Covid-19 pandemic and not reported until his sentencing in April.
At least 20 Christians are either serving prison sentences in Iran or living in enforced internal exile following charges concerning the peaceful practice of their faith.
From Barnabas Fund contacts and other sources