Tuesday, June 28, 2005

...of whom the world is not worthy...

Pastor Hamid Pourmand of Iran Sentenced to 3 Years in Prison for failing to Disclose he was a Christian while serving in Iran military: "Pourmand was arrested September 9, 2004, together with 85 other participants of the annual general conference of denomination. The other Christians were released within the next three days, but pastor Pourmand was charged with hiding his conversion from his superiors. According to Iranian law only Muslims can be officers in the army.

The Middle East Concern spokesperson went on to say, 'On Saturday May 28th an Islamic judge in Bandar-I Bushehr, on Iran's Gulf coast, acquitted pastor Pourmand of charges of apostasy and proselytizing Muslims. Christian news agency Compass Direct has been told that the judge reportedly stated 'I don't know who you are, but the rest-of-the-world does,' a clear reference to the international attention that this case has attracted.''

Pastor Pourmand was formally charged with apostasy from Islam and proselytizing Muslims in early April. Starting on April 13th He appeared before an Islamic court in Tehran every two or three days. He was repeatedly pressed to return to Islam. These hearings stopped after two weeks. He was transferred to his home town of Bandar-i Bushehr on the 16th May.

'On February 16th 2005 pastor Pourmand was found guilty of this charge despite presenting documents in court that proved his superior were aware he was a Christian before he was promoted to the officer ranks. He was sentenced to three years imprisonment and dishonorably discharged from the army with lost of his income, pension and housing for his family. However, the local authorities delayed evicting his wife and two teenage sons from their army provided housing until the end of the school year.'

The spokesperson concluded by revealing that in the last 16 years three Iranian church leaders have been charged with apostasy.

"All were convicted and sentenced to death," they said. "Pastor Hussein Soodman was hanged in 1989. Deacon Maher had a noose round his neck when he signaled his willingness to recant and was released after signing a paper to that effect in 1992. Pastor Mehdi Dibaj was condemned to death in December 1993. He was released three weeks later after a strong international outcry; only to be found murdered six months later."

This is a friend of a friend.

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