According to Fox News, "five men were among seven arrested in October when security forces raided an underground house church in the city of Shiraz during a prayer session." And Christian Solidarity Worldwide, a religious persecution watchdog organization, elaborated that they are being tried in Islamic Revolutionary Court on charges of "disturbing public order, evangelizing, action against national security and ... (Internet) activity against the system."
Tiffany Barrans, international legal director at the American Center for Law and Justice, explained to Fox, "House churches are growing because the converts have nowhere else to go."
Barrans and the ACLJ are also the legal defenders for Pastor Saeed Abedini, who has been held in Iran's inhumane Evin prison since September, when he was arrested for helping to build a state-run secular orphanage. He is serving an eight-year prison term, which is why the ACLJ is gathering more than a half-million signatures in an online petition seeking his release. Abedini's wife and two young children fear for his life while they anxiously await his return to their Idaho home.
In similar news, 3,000 Muslims armed with sticks, clubs and stones burned at least 150 houses of Christians, a church and shops in Pakistan over allegations that a single Christian had made critical comments about the Prophet Muhammad.
The News International reported: "The history of persecution of Christians in Pakistan is not very old. Just 15 years ago, a Christian Ayub Masih was the first to be convicted of blasphemy and sentenced to death." (Blasphemy is still punishable by life in prison or even death in Pakistan.)
Fox News further explained: "Under Shariah, or Islamic law, a Muslim who converts to Christianity is on a par with someone waging war against Islam. Death sentences for such individuals are prescribed by fatwas, or legal decrees, and reinforced by Iran's Constitution, which allows judges to rely on fatwas for determining charges and sentencing on crimes not addressed in the Iranian penal code."
Contrast those laws with Americans' First Amendment rights: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."
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