Iran: Christian convert risks death penalty

Tehran, 23 Sept. (AKI) - Iranian Christian convert Ramtin Soudmand faces the death penalty after being jailed for the crime of 'ertedad' or abandoning the Muslim faith.

Ramtin's father Hossein Soudmand, a Protestant pastor, was executed almost 20 years ago for converting to Christianity and refusing to deny his new faith.

Married with two children, Soudmand was detained by security officials in Mashad about a month ago.

"The authorities have not yet charged my brother with any crime, but we fear that his charges will be formalised after the execution of the sentence, like what happened with my father," said Ramtin's sister, Rashin in an interview with Adnkronos International (AKI).

The Iranian Parliament is currently considering a law to make apostasy or the renunciation of the Muslim faith a crime. It is expected to be passed soon.

"The thing that bothers us the most is the silence by political and religious authorities of Christian countries, and not the attitude of the Islamic Republic that does not recognise the freedom of its citizens to choose their own faith," Rashin said.

Rashin said her brother had been allowed limited contact with his family since his arrest.

"Since Ramtin was taken by some undercover police, he was allowed to talk to his wife and our mother on only two occasions, but never for more than a couple of minutes," Ramtin's sister, Rashin, told AKI.

Hussein Soudmand, an Assemblies of God pastor and a Muslim convert to Christianity, was executed in December 1990.


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