Under Shariah law, the penalty for apostasy often is death. According to reports about the punishment system within Iran, for women the execution often is preceded by rape. [Cf previous KF blog post on this here.]According to a base report from the Elam ministry, during their court appearance on Sunday just past "at which they were supposed to hear their sentences on allegations of apostasy" -- and this point of intended sentencing by the way seems to have been the FIRST time that the women had the benefit of legal representation -- instead there was a public and highly revealing interrogation "by the deputy prosecutor identified only by his surname, Haddad":
Reports have revealed that both women have been subjected to solitary confinement as well as extended interrogations already, with health problems resulting.
. . . [the women] explained that God had convicted them [to become and remain Christians] through the Holy Spirit.
"It is impossible for God to speak with humans," Hadded 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 instructed that the women were "to go back to their prison cells and think about their options, and to return to court when they are ready to comply."
The response: "We have already done our thinking."
The Elam report adds that "the fact that no verdict was given in the case indicates the court is focusing solely on the women's Christian faith and no other "offense." "
We may also see that:
The Elam report observed:
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.
At the end of the session, Mr. Haddad told them that a judge will give them his verdict, though it is not clear who will be the judge in their case now. He also allowed Maryam and Marzieh to have a lawyer represent them in the case for the first time since their arrest.It gives some other relevant background:
Maryam and Marzieh were originally arrested on March 5, 2009 and have suffered greatly while in prison, suffering ill health, solitary confinement and interrogations for many hours while blindfolded. . . . . Marzieh is in pain due to an on-going problem with her spine, as well as an infected tooth and intense headaches. She desperately needs medical attention . . . . Two months ago the prison officials told her the prison had proper medical equipment and that they will attend to her, but so far no proper treatment has been given . . . .Very understandably and correctly, the Elam report concludes:
Despite the concentrated effort of officials to pressure them into recanting their faith, Maryam and Marzieh love Jesus and they are determined to stand firm to the very end no matter whatever happens. They have demonstrated their love for Jesus and would offer their lives for Him if they were called to do so. After today’s court session they said, “If we come out of prison we want to do so with honor."
Maryam and Marzieh’s case is a clear and harsh violation of human rights and religious liberty by Iran’s authorities. They deserve the support of all those who respect human rights and to be released without charges so they can pursue a life of freedom.So, we must be utterly clear what our sisters and brothers in Christ in Iran are undergoing even as we ourselves enjoy freedom of conscience and worship here in the Caribbean.
Things that it is plain that the major media houses in the Western World will never report, lest it stir us to a different view of the world situation and what we need to do as free people in free nations, with governments whose policy must by sworn duty reflect principles of democracy and liberty.
So, we now need to begin to petition our Caribbean Governments and Caricom, to stand up against such outrages, especially through those Caribbean states that are closely connected to Venezuela, an ally of Iran.
But most of all, we need to pray that in his grace God will give rescue to these two brave young ladies, and the many others of his people in the global suffering church. And, in so praying let us be willing also to pray that we be a part of the answer to these prayers.
The Voice of the Martyrs Persecuted Church blog gives us some guidance on such prayers, from Elam:
Oh, God, in the grace of Christ, let this be so, Amen. END
Let us thank [God]:
- For preserving, sustaining and strengthening them in prison.
- For giving them the grace to be steadfast in their faith.
- For the witness they have been in prison.
- For the love, concern and prayer of many believers around the world.
Pray for their court hearing:
- Pray that the court will set them free.
- Pray that the presence and the anointing of the Holy Spirit will be with them.
- That they will receive healing from all illness
- That the peace of God will cover their minds and their hearts, and will keep them safe in Jesus and refresh them tonight.
- That in all this the Lord will be greatly glorified and His perfect will be done.
Thank you so much for praying.