Morning Star News, July 6, 2021 (excerpts)
The first Christians to be punished under a newly amended law in Iran aimed at halting the growth of Christianity and other religious groups were sentenced to five years in prison for spreading “propaganda” against Islam after they refused to renounce Christ.
Amin Khaki, Milad Goudarzi and Alireza Nourmohammadi, all converts from Islam, were sentenced under Article 500 of Iran’s newly amended penal code, which states that “any deviant education or propaganda that contradicts or interferes with the sacred Sharia law will be severely punished.”
Members of the Church of Iran, the three men were given the maximum prison sentence allowable under the amended article and fined 40 million tomans (US$1,600). Another member of the church, Hamet Ashouri, was told the same day that his appeal of a 10-month prison sentence on charges of “propaganda against the regime” had been denied. Ashouri is also a convert from Islam.
Along with increased prison terms, the law allows the state to take away certain basic rights, such as voting, for as long as 15 years. Religious freedom activists warned that the amendment, which was first proposed in 2020 and passed by parliament on Jan. 13, could be used to attack religious dissidents and minority groups.