In a decision that is simply stunning to those who watch the persecution of Christians in the Middle East, a judge in Iran has acquitted nine Christians of charges that have kept them in jail for two years already.
Open Doors USA, which monitors that persecution around the world actually, called it a “landmark” ruling.
The U.S.-based organization said it was Article 18 that reported the judge decided there was “insufficient evidence” that the Christians acted against national security.
The Christians, in fact, had only “worshiped in the house church in accordance with the teachings of Christianity,” the court decided, according to Open Doors.
Further, the faith teaches to live in “obedience, submission and support of the authorities.”
Islamic law also was quoted, in an instruction that judges interpret “any doubt in favor of the accused.”
The case already had been up and down the judicial system in Iran, with a judge on that nation’s Supreme Court ruling that said “merely preaching Christianity” in house churches did not amount to acting against national security.
The ruling actually could impact many other Christians across Iran who left Islam.
“This ruling is unlike any other of its type that I have seen, as the judges have gone to considerable length to explain their verdict, listing nine different reasons based on the constitution, judicial principles, legal provisions and Islamic tradition,” explained Mansour Borji, Article 18’s advocacy director.
The organization reported human rights lawyer Hassein Ahmadiniaz confirmed that Iranian law allows Christian converts to attend house churches and worship.
He said, “What they do in their church or homes is sacred and between them and God.”
The rogue Islamic regime in Iran has for more than a decade attacked converts to Christianity by preventing them from gathering. Previous jail sentences for offenses have ranged up to 10 years.
Many times the charges against them are non-specific, simply claiming only a threat to “national security.”
Open Doors reported, “There have been international calls for Iran to review these cases in light of its own Constitution and laws, which nowhere state that attending a house church or gathering to worship together is illegal. Those calls have fallen on deaf ears—until now.”
However, Open Doors said local authorities have filed additional charges against several of the defendants in the case.
Open Doors said that indicates an instability in the judicial process in Iran over the issues involved.
Decision Magazine said Nadine Maenza, chief of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, celebrated, with, “We are pleased by the Tehran Court of Appeals’ acquittal of nine Christians. Iran’s courts correctly determined that peacefully practicing Christianity does not threaten Iran’s national security.”
The defendants are Abdolreza (Matthias) Ali-Haghnejad, Shahrooz Eslamdoust, Behnam Akhlaghi, Babak Hosseinzadeh, Mehdi Khatibi, Khalil Dehghanpour, Hossein Kadivar, Kamal Naamanian and Mohammad Vafadar.
The men were arrested during raids on their homes and house churches in January and February 2019 and sentenced in October of that year.
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