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Iran: Church leader forced into exile

The U.S. State Department has classified Iran as a “country of particular concern” for “having engaged in or tolerated particularly severe violations of religious freedom.”

For previous coverage of Iran, see here.

“Iranian church leader forced into exile,” Open Doors, June 30, 2023:

When Iranian Christian Saheb went to Tehran earlier this week, it was meant to be a quick trip – to secure the release of a property deed that he’d submitted long ago for his bail. He’d spent years in prison for his faith, but had been pardoned and freed. Saheb’s journey was only supposed to be a simple errand. Instead, Saheb was told that – despite his recent pardoning – two punishments remained on his case file that had yet to be enforced.

Flogging and exile
Instead of being given the deeds for his property, Saheb was flogged with 50 lashes on the spot. It’s not even the first time he’s been flogged – years earlier, he’d received this punishment for the ‘crime’ of drinking Communion wine. This time, the flogging was purportedly for not returning to prison following a furlough.

But that wasn’t the only outstanding punishment, according to the Iranian authorities. He has also been sentenced to a two-year exile in the city of Nehbandan (south east of Tehran, near the Afghan border) as part of a separate conviction for ‘spreading propaganda against the regime’.

Saheb’s wife, Marjan, was waiting outside while Saheb was brutally flogged. He then had to tell her the news about his upcoming exile. Marjan told Saheb that she was willing to travel with him into exile, but Saheb does not want his family to have to endure the punishment alongside him, nor take them away from their home and friends. He’s been told that he must submit himself to the authorities in Nehbandan ‘within the next few days’….

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