A well-known Iranian Christian woman received a suspended prison sentence April 21 and an order to be flogged 10 times for reportedly protesting the government’s downing of Ukrainian Airline Flight 752, International Christian Concern says.
Christian human rights activist Mary Fatima Mohammadi was arrested after being in the area of a protest against the destruction of Flight 752, which took off from Tehran on Jan. 8 and was downed by two missiles from the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. All 176 persons on board were killed.
Iran’s government initially denied involvement but soon admitted it was at fault. It blamed human error.
Mohammadi was charged with “disrupting public order by participating in an illegal rally.” She was ordered to receive a flogging of 10 lashes and a suspended prison sentence of three months, International Christian Concern (ICC) said.
Mohammadi said on Instagram her conviction was due to “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.”
Still, on Twitter she said 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. 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,” she said. “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 Iran remains one of the world’s worst violators of religious freedom.
“The sentencing of Mary Mohammadi is alarming, but unfortunately, not surprising,” Evans said. “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.”
Photo courtesy: International Christian Concern
Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.