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Militant Islam Monitor > Articles > Iranian convert to Christianity escapes death sentence for apostasy - forced to 'reconvert' to Islam - remains jailed

Iranian convert to Christianity escapes death sentence for apostasy - forced to 'reconvert' to Islam - remains jailed

June 16, 2005

MIM: There is no such thing as interfaith in Islam. The case of Pastor Hamid Pourmand is just one of hundreds of cases where Muslims who have converted 'out' of Islam into other religions have been imprisoned, executed, or forced to become Muslim again.

The judge in the case admitted that international pressure from Christian groups played a role in Pourmand's 'aquittal', which essentially meant that he did not get sentenced to death but did not signal the end of his or his family's ordeal. As of March 31st he remains in jail, and was forced to 'convert' to Islam again . He is also still facing charges that he 'deceived his superiors' about his faith, and committed the 'crime' of being in a position of authority above that of a Muslim. Since 1987 three Christians in Iran have been sentenced to death for converting to Christianity.

http://www.christiantoday.com/news/missions/iranian.pastor.pourmand.acquitted.of.apostasy.proselytising.remains.in.jail/367.htm

Iranian Pastor Pourmand Acquitted of Apostasy & Proselytising - Remains in Jail

Iranian Pastor Pourmand Acquitted of Apostasy & Proselytising - Remains in Jail

June 16, 2005

Pastor Hamid Pourmand of the Assemblies of God Church was acquitted of the charges of apostasy and proselytising on 28th May 2005 by an Islamic court in his hometown Bandar-i Bushehr.

Hamid Pourmand, who converted to Christianity in 1980, was arrested during a church meeting last year on 9th September together with another 85 participants. Others were released within three days, however Pourmand was charged of deceiving his superiors about his faith, since according to Iranian law, non-Muslims cannot hold a position of authority above that of a Muslim. So Pourmand should not have been allowed to be an army officer.

Other charges he was accused of were apostasy and proselytising. These charges, if he were not acquitted, would have led to a death sentence.

A spokesperson of Middle East Concern (MEC) who has been following the case said: "On Saturday May 28th an Islamic judge in Bandar-I Bushehr, on Iran's Gulf coast, acquitted pastor Pourmand of charges of apostasy and proselytising Muslims."

However, he still stays in prison: "He remains imprisoned for allegedly deceiving the Iranian army about his being a Christian," the spokesperson continued.

He was found guilty of this charge on 16th February 2005 despite the fact the documents proving his superiors had known about his Christian faith were presented during the process. As the result, he was sentenced to 3 years in prison.

Later, in early April, he was accused of apostasy and proselytising and appeared before an Islamic court several times from 13th April for two weeks. During the hearings he was forced to convert to Islam again.

On 16th May he was transformed to his hometown to stand before an Islamic court there. The case has attracted a lot of international attention, as the statement of the local judge reveals: "I don't know who you are, but the rest of the world does."


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http://www.christiannewstoday.com/CWN_499.html

CONVERT FROM ISLAM ACQUITTED OF APOSTASY CHARGES
Could have faced death penalty

By: Dan Wooding


BANDAR-I BUSHEHR, IRAN (ANS) -- Hamid Pourmand, a lay leader in the Assemblies of God church in Bandar-i Bushehr who converted to Christianity in 1980, has been acquitted of charges of apostasy and proselytizing. (Pictured: Hamid Pourmand).

"If found guilty he would have faced the death penalty," said a spokesperson for Middle East Concern (MEC), who has been monitoring the case. "He remains imprisoned for allegedly deceiving the Iranian army about his being a Christian."

Pourmand was arrested September 9, 2004, together with 85 other participants of the annual general conference of denomination. The other Christians were released within the next three days, but pastor Pourmand was charged with hiding his conversion from his superiors. According to Iranian law only Muslims can be officers in the army.

The Middle East Concern spokesperson went on to say, "On Saturday May 28th an Islamic judge in Bandar-I Bushehr, on Iran's Gulf coast, acquitted pastor Pourmand of charges of apostasy and proselytizing Muslims. Christian news agency Compass Direct has been told that the judge reportedly stated I don't know who you are, but the rest-of-the-world does,' a clear reference to the international attention that this case has attracted.'"

Pastor Pourmand was formally charged with apostasy from Islam and proselytizing Muslims in early April. Starting on April 13th He appeared before an Islamic court in Tehran every two or three days. He was repeatedly pressed to return to Islam. These hearings stopped after two weeks. He was transferred to his home town of Bandar-i Bushehr on the 16th May.

"On February 16th 2005 pastor Pourmand was found guilty of this charge despite presenting documents in court that proved his superior were aware he was a Christian before he was promoted to the officer ranks. He was sentenced to three years imprisonment and dishonorably discharged from the army with lost of his income, pension and housing for his family. However, the local authorities delayed evicting his wife and two teenage sons from their army provided housing until the end of the school year."

The spokesperson concluded by revealing that in the last 16 years three Iranian church leaders have been charged with apostasy.

"All were convicted and sentenced to death," they said. "Pastor Hussein Soodman was hanged in 1989. Deacon Maher had a noose round his neck when he signaled his willingness to recant and was released after signing a paper to that effect in 1992. Pastor Mehdi Dibaj was condemned to death in December 1993. He was released three weeks later after a strong international outcry; only to be found murdered six months later."

MEC is a co-operative effort by concerned Christians in the Middle East focusing on the need for Middle Eastern authorities to ensure the rights of all who choose to call themselves Christian.

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http://www.asianews.it/view.php?l=en&art=3409

31 May, 2005
IRAN
Convert from Islam acquitted of apostasy charges

Hamid Pourmand could have faced death penalty.

Teheran (AsiaNews/Mec) - Christians in Iran have learned that Hamid Pourmand, a lay leader in a church and a convert from Islam, have been acquitted of charges of apostasy and proselytising. If found guilty he would have faced the death penalty. He remains imprisoned for allegedly deceiving the Iranian army about his being a Christian.
On Saturday 28th May an Islamic judge in Bandar-I Bushehr, on Iran's Gulf coast, acquitted pastor Pourmand of charges of apostasy and proselytising Muslims. Christians news agency Compass Direct has been told that the judge reportedly stated "I don't know who you are, but the rest-of-the-world does", a clear reference to the international attention that this case has attracted.
Pastor Pourmand was formally charged with apostasy from Islam and proselytising Muslims in early April. Starting on 13th April he appeared before an Islamic court in Tehran every two or three days. He was repeatedly pressed to return to Islam. These hearings stopped after two weeks. He was transferred to his home town of Bandar-i Bushehr on the 16th May.
He was arrested 9th September 2004, together with 85 other participants of the annual general conference of his denomination. The other Christians were released in the next three days. At the time, pastor Pourmand was a lay-pastor and a colonel in the Iranian army. He was charged with hiding his conversion from his superiors because Iranian law states that army officers must be Muslims.
On 16th February 2005 pastor Pourmand was found guilty of this charge despite presenting documents in court that proved his superior were aware he was a Christian before he was promoted to the officer ranks. He was sentenced to three years imprisonment and dishonourably discharged from the army with lost of his income, pension and housing for his family. However, the local authorities delayed evicting his wife and two teenage sons from their army provided housing until the end of the school year.
In the last 16 years three Iranian church leaders have been charged with apostasy. All were convicted and sentenced to death. Pastor Hussein Soodman was hanged in 1989. Deacon Maher had a noose round his neck when he signalled his willingness to recant and was released after signing a paper to that effect in 1992. Pastor Mehdi Dibaj was condemned to death in December 1993. He was released three weeks later after a strong international outcry; only to be found murdered six months later

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MIM: The definition of blasphemy and apostasy and the laws concerning punishment for Muslims who leave Islam.

http://muslim-canada.org/apostasy.htm

The following definitions are important for our discussion:

Blasphemy - "(Kufr) 'to hide' (the truth).

It includes a denial of any of the essential principles of Islam.

A Muslim convicted of blasphemy is sentenced to death in Muhammadan countries."

According to Webster's Dictionary(2)" contemptuous and irreverent speech about God or kings regarded as sacred."

Apostasy - "According to Muslim Law, a male apostate, or murtadd, is liable to be put to death if he continue obstinate in his error; a female apostate is not subject to capital punishment, but she may be kept in confinement until she recant. If either the husband or the wife apostatize from the faith of Islam, a divorce takes place ipso facto; the wife is entitled to her whole dower, but no sentence of divorce is necessary. If the husband and wife both apostatize together, their marriage is generally allowed to continue, although Imam Zufar says if either husband or wife were singly to return to Islam, then the marriage would be dissolved.

According to Abu Hanifah, a male apostate is disabled from selling or otherwise disposing of his property. But Abu Yusuf and Imam Muhammad differ from their master on this point, and consider a male apostate to be as competent to exercise every right as if he were still in the faith.

If a boy under age apostatize, he is not to be put to death, but to be imprisoned until he come to full age, when, if he continues in the state of unbelief, he must be put to death. Neither lunatics nor drunkards are held to be responsible for their apostasy from Islam. If a person upon compulsion became an apostate, his wife is not divorced, nor are his lands forfeited. If a person become a Mussulman [i.e. Muslim] upon compulsion, and afterwards apostatize, he is not to be put to death.

The will of a male apostate is not valid, but that of a female apostate is valid.

Ikrimah relates that some apostates were brought to the Khalifa Ali, and he burnt them alive; but Ibn Abbas heard of it and said that the Khalifa had not acted rightly, for the Prophet had said "Punish not with God's punishment (i.e., fire), but whosoever changes his religion, kill him with the sword."

Apostasy - Returning to Webster's dictionary this time for a definition of Apostasy and Treason: - "the public abandoning of a religious faith, esp. Christianity, for another; a similar abandonment of a doctrine or party." 'Treason is' defined: "not only as an attempt to overthrow by illegal means, the government to which a person owes allegiance, the act or attempted act of working for the enemies of the State, and attempt to kill or injure the sovereign, but also betrayal of trust, disloyalty (to a cause, friend, etc.)."



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