Iranian house church leader and wife die after police raid
Wednesday August 06, 2008
IRAN: CHRISTIAN COUPLE DIES FROM POLICE ATTACK
Hosts of house church succumb to injuries following raid; daughter still in custody.
Christian couples' gravesite
Christian couples' gravesite
Less than a week after Abbas Amiri’s funeral, his wife died from similar injuries and stress from her husband’s death, according to Farsi Christian News Network (FCNN).
Police beat and arrested Amiri on July 17, along with seven other men, six women and two minors who were attending the service, the source said. Amiri died in a hospital on July 30 from injuries sustained from the beating.
Amiri’s wife, Sakineh Rahnama, died on Sunday (Aug. 3) from stress-related causes, according to FCNN.
Secret police raided the house church meeting hosted by Amiri and his wife in Malek Shahr, just outside the central Iranian city of Isfahan. They beat and arrested all those in attendance, including the two minors and the hosting couple.
Violence against Amiri reportedly intensified when the policemen discovered that he had taken a pilgrimage to Mecca, one of the five pillars of Islam required of all devout Muslims, before he had become a Christian. He was also a veteran of the Iran-Iraq War, a strong source of Iranian national pride, so his conversion further infuriated police, according to FCNN.
All those arrested at the house meeting are reportedly still in custody, including Amiri’s daughter and the two minors.
Three days before his death, Amiri was moved to the Sharieti Hospital of Isfahan. Family members who saw him said his chest was severely bruised and believe that was the cause of his death, a source told Compass.
Amiri was buried the day after his death in a cemetery in his birthplace of Masjid-Soleiman, located near the Iran-Iraq border, on Thursday (July 31). Many friends and supporters attended the funeral, though security officials reportedly attempted to prevent their attendance.
Following Rahnama’s death on Sunday, secret police in Masjid-Soleiman put the Amiri family’s house under surveillance. They ordered the family not to have a memorial or funeral service for Rahnama and said they had to leave the city immediately.
Amiri’s son then yelled at the security officers, who proceeded to beat him, according to FCNN. Rahnama was buried on Monday (Aug 4).
Arrests and violence against Iranian Christians have intensified in recent weeks. Twelve Christians traveling to Armenia via Tehran were arrested on July 12 at the Kerman airport in south-central Iran. Two Christian converts have been jailed for two months in Shiraz, one of whom is diabetic and in critical condition.
In February the Iranian parliament proposed a draft penal code that demands the death penalty for leaving Islam. Under current Iranian law, “apostasy” is considered a capital offense, but punishment is left to the discretion of the judge.
The draft penal code is scheduled to be reviewed in the next parliamentary session.