Iran: Another Believer Arrested

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On 24 July, an Iranian Christian named Issa Motamadi was imprisoned
on account of his faith. French Internet news site VoxDei reports
that Issa Motamadi, a resident of the north-western town of Resht,
the capital of Gilan Province, will soon stand trial before a
Revolutionary Tribunal. (Link 1)

Sources with knowledge of the situation request prayer for Issa, his
wife Parvah – both converts to Christianity – and their young son.
They also appeal to human rights and religious liberty
organisations, and request that they intercede for Issa Motamadi to
their Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

While Issa Motamadi has been accused of apostasy, it is likely that
a non-religious charge will eventually be leveled against him in
order to prevent accusations of religious persecution. Article 23 of
Iran's Constitution states: "The investigation of individuals'
beliefs is forbidden, and no one may be molested or taken to task
simply for holding a certain belief." (Link 2)

Allegedly, Issa and Parvah came to the attention of the authorities
around seven months ago when they decided to give their newborn son
a Biblical, Christian name. Sources explain that this is interpreted
as a sign of irrevocable rupture with Islam as it demonstrates that
the child is born to Christian parents and will be identified as
Christian from birth – he is one who cannot be accused of apostasy.

According to reports, Mr Baghani, a secret service official with
responsibilities for minorities, advised that Issa should renounce
his faith and return to Islam, for only then will he be free. He
said the judge will not accept any other solution. He also intimated
that it may take several executions before Iranians actually
comprehend the reality of the consequences of apostasy.

There have been rumors that the authorities may also move to arrest
Parvah and falsely accuse her of drug trafficking. Issa's mother,
who is not a Christian, is deeply traumatised by these events. The
family is in desperate need of a lawyer courageous enough to
advocate with conviction for Issa and Parvah's constitutional
religious rights.

There is great concern that President Ahmadinejad may escalate
persecution of Christians, especially converts and evangelists,
while the conflict in the Levant absorbs the world's attention.

Those appealing for advocacy for the Motamadis would like Iran's
leaders to be reminded that 14 centuries ago a group of fugitive
Muslims fled persecution from the Quraysh in Mecca to seek refuge in
Christian Abyssinia (Ethiopia). In Abyssinia the Muslim refugees
appealed to the Negus (Emperor) for asylum and religious liberty on
the grounds of what they said were the affinities between Islam and
the Abrahamic religions. Their cause was heard and the Negus refused
to hand the Muslims over to the Quraysh, even though the Quraysh
offered prolific bribes and gifts. So the Muslims lived in Christian
Abyssinia under the protection of the Christian Negus, in peace and
with full religious liberty.

And the Abyssinian experience is repeated widely around the world
today. For example, multitudes of Shiite Muslims who fled
persecution in Iraq during the rule of Saddam Hussein have found
both refuge and religious liberty in the "Christian" West.

Yet today, Issa Motamadi is holed up in an Islamic prison in Rasht,
Iran, wrongfully accused and separated from his family and loved
ones simply on account of his devotion to the God of Abraham, Isaac
and Jacob, the Creator of the world.

Elizabeth Kendal
[email protected]


1) Intercession: Soutenons Issa, un chrétien arrêté et emprisonné
pour sa foi au Nord de l'Iran, début d'une persécution généralisée?
By Nicolas Ciarapica, 24 July 2006
http://www.bethel-fr.com/afficher_info.php?id=17800.190 (NB: VoxDei
is experiencing harassment and cyber attack and so the site may not
be available.)

2) Iranian Constitution http://www.oefre.unibe.ch/law/icl/ir00000_.html

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