Three Christians have been ordered by a Sharia court in Iran to be given 80 lashes of the cane each after finding them guilty of blasphemy for drinking holy communion wine.
According to Daily Express, Yaser Mosibzadeh, Saheb Fadayee and Mohammed Reza Omidi will be flogged in public after being arrested at a house church gathering in Rasht, Iran, earlier this year.
The three men had been forced to spend weeks in prison before finally being released on bail, but will now be subjected to the cruel and degrading punishment after being found guilty by Islamist judges.
According to reports, the men were caught after security agents raided the home of their pastor Yousef Nadarkhani and his wife Fatemeh Pasandideh and arrested them at the same time, but they were not detained.
Iranian authorities later charged converts Mosibzadeh, Fadayee and Omidi for consuming alcohol during a communion service.
It is not illegal for Christians to drink alcohol in Iran but under Islamic law, Muslims are forbidden from drinking and it is illegal for Muslims to convert. The three men had earlier converted to Christianity from Islam.
The trio’s conversion from Islam to Christianity is not recognised by Iranian authorities who subscribe to Sharia law.
An Iranian court sentenced the trio to 80 lashes each as punishment for their actions.
Many people faint after eight strokes due to the severe pain of the barbaric corporal punishment, which was commonplace in the Middle Ages.
The group, alongside Nadarkhani, are also due to be sentenced for “action against national security” at a later date at the Revolutionary Court in Rasht.
Lawyers for the Christians are planning to appeal the flogging punishment, according to Middle East Concern.
Christian charity Release International is calling for the Iranian authorities to allow its citizens to choose their own faith and to acquit the group.
Release Chief Executive Paul Robinson said: “Why should Christians be lashed for taking communion?
“Why is Iran refusing to allow its own citizens that most basic of all freedoms, the freedom to choose their own faith?
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