Iran imposes flogging on Christian convert for peaceful protest

“There is no evidence against me, so I ought to have been acquitted.”

An Iranian flag flutters in front of the IAEA headquarters in Vienna (photo credit: REUTERS/ LEONHARD FOEGER)
An Iranian flag flutters in front of the IAEA headquarters in Vienna
BERLIN - The Islamic Republic of Iran imposed a sentence of lashes and prison on Mary (Fatemeh) Mohammadi, one of Iran’s most famous converts to Christianity, because she allegedly “disturbed the public order.”
The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom, an independent  federal government commission, slammed Iran’s regime on Wednesday writing “USCIRF condemns Iran’s sentencing of Christian convert and social activist Mary Mohammadi. No peaceful activist should be targeted on the basis of their religious beliefs.”
Iran’s authorities arrested the 21-year-old Mohammadi on January 12  near a protest where Iranians demonstrated in connection with Tehran’s downing of  Ukrainian Airline passenger Flight 752.
Mohammadi said on Instagram that her sentence is a result of “protesting against the slaughter of human beings; because of showing sympathy for the families of those who perished on the Ukraine airline crash; because of defending the rights of all humans.”
Iran's regime faced international criticism for shooting down the airline. All 176 passengers and crew aboard were killed by the Islamic Republic of Iran.
The International Christian Concern (ICC) wrote on Tuesday that “it has learned that on April 21, 2020, Christian human rights activist Mary Fatima Mohammadi received a suspended prison sentence of three months by the Iranian government. The sentence included a directive ordering Mary to receive a flogging of 10 lashes."
According to the ICC, “After her arrest, Mary disappeared for nearly a month before she was discovered in Qarchak Women’s Prison, a jail with a reputation for various types of gender abuse. While there, Mary reported that she was beaten and suffered other kinds of mistreatment at the hands of the officials, including being strip-searched twice. She was eventually released on a bail of 30 million tomans ($2,250 USD) and charged with ‘disrupting public order by participating in an illegal rally.”’
As a result of the coronavirus crisis, he court hearing postponed until April 17.
Iran’s Human Rights Activist News Agency (HANA) reported that during the hearing, the judge repeatedly questioned Mohammadi about her conversion to Christianity.
“There is no evidence against me, so I ought to have been acquitted. But instead I was sentenced not only to imprisonment, but also flogging," Mohammadi tweeted after the court imposed its sentence.
"It should be mentioned that even before the verdict was handed down, I was forced to endure all kinds of torture, none of which was sanctioned by law, and which ought to be considered crimes in themselves," Mohammadi continued. "We have refrained from appealing against the verdict because the appeal courts have turned into confirmation courts! I am proud of sympathizing with human beings in the real harsh environment of the streets. This is my conviction and the cost.”
Claire Evans, ICC’s Regional Manager for the Middle East, said, “we must not let the number of political prisoners furloughed in Iran because of COVID-19 confuse the issue that Iran has always been one of the top human rights violators in the world. The authorities have made it clear, time and time again, that they do not value their citizens and that they will not tolerate freedom of conscience."
"The sentencing of Mary Mohammadi is alarming, but unfortunately, not surprising. Iran’s government does not want human rights activism, and they do not want Christians exercising their voice publicly. Mary Mohammadi is an example of courage and bravery to us all. We must continue calling on Iran to respect human rights and allow its citizens to voice their convictions of conscience,” Evans said.