A court in Iran has sentenced a 65-year-old convert to Christianity to three years in prison for “insulting Islamic sacred beliefs” even as he is yet to be tried in the court for two other charges, a religious freedom watchdog group has reported.
The U.K.-based group Article 18 reported this week that Ismaeil Maghrebinejad has 20 days to appeal his sentencing and that the court referred to Article 513 of the Islamic Penal Code, which provides for a punishment between one and five years in prison.
Maghrebinejad was convicted for forwarding a message on his phone that allegedly made fun of Iran’s ruling clerics.
The convert was arrested at his home in the south-central region of Shiraz last January. Iranian security officials have regularly harassed Maghrebinejad for 40 years ever since he accepted Christ, the group said.
He is under trial for two other charges: “propaganda against the Islamic Republic” and “membership of a group hostile to the regime.”
Last November, a court dropped another charge, of apostasy, which is punishable with the death penalty in Iran. He was initially charged for apostasy due to his conversion to Christianity. In its hearing at the time, however, the court said the case against him for engaging in “propaganda against the Islamic Republic” would still apply as he allegedly started a Telegram channel to promote evangelical Christianity.
The convert’s daughter, Mahsa, believes that her father has been targeted at least partially because she and her husband, Nathan, both of whom now live in the U.S., minister to Christians inside Iran over the Internet.
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SOURCE: Christian Post, Anugrah Kumar