Monday, November 23, 2009

Surprise: Converts from Islam to Christianity set free in Iran

International pressure sometimes works. Some unexpected good news in an update on this story: "Freedom for imprisoned Christian 'apostates,'" by Chelsea Schilling for WorldNetDaily, November 19

After millions of prayers and numerous petitions from around the world, two Iranian women jailed for no other reason than being Christian were released from a Tehran prison today.

Maryam Rustampoor, 27, and Marzieh Amirizadeh, 30, were imprisoned for 259 days - since March 5. They were repeatedly told to recant their faith and that they would be executed as "apostates," solely because they are Christians.

But now Open Doors USA has confirmed the women have been released from the notorious Evin prison with no bail, a rarity for Christians released from prison in Iran. [...]

Compass Direct News noted that the women may still face charges of proselytizing and "apostasy," or leaving Islam.

An Iranian source told Compass the Iranian government faced intense public pressure for imprisoning the women.

"It was from the international pressure, and also the government couldn't handle it anymore," said the source. "Already their detention was illegal. At the same time, the government wasn't ready to prosecute them for apostasy. They already have many headaches. They cannot handle everything."

According to Facebook groups that support the women, Rustampoor and Amirizadeh had been participating in religious gatherings and handing out Bibles prior to their detention. Iranian security officials searched their apartments in March, confiscated their Bibles and arrested them.

As WND reported, Rustampoor and Amirizadeh appeared before a court in Iran and were charged with "crimes of apostasy, and propagation of the Christian faith." In a display of raw courage, they told a government prosecutor that not only are they Christian, it is up to God, not a bureaucrat, to whom He talks.

According to Elam, a dramatic part of the hearing came when they refused to deny their Christian faith.

They explained that God had convicted them through the Holy Spirit.

"It is impossible for God to speak with humans," Haddad, a deputy prosecutor identified only by his surname, stated.

"Are you questioning whether God is Almighty?" Amirizadeh asked him.

To which Haddad then replied. "You are not worthy for God to speak to you."

"It is God, and not you, who determines if I am worthy," she said.

Haddad earlier had asked if the women were Christian.

"We love Jesus," they replied.

"You were Muslims and now you have become Christians," Haddad stated.

"We were born in Muslim families, but we were not Muslims," the women said.

The deputy prosecutor asked about their regrets, and they said, "We have no regrets."

"You should renounce your faith verbally and in written form," he warned.

They refused....

With thanks to JihadWatch

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