ByÂ Lisa Daftari, Fox News
Twelve Christians stood trial Easter Sunday in Iran, where they were called â€œapostatesâ€ in a courtroom and tried on multiple charges, according to sources close to Iranâ€™s Christian community.
The Christians had been acquitted on the same charges, including â€œcrimes against the order,â€ a year ago in Bandar Anzali, a city on the Caspian Sea. The group was first arrested when authorities found them drinking wine while taking communion, according to sources.
â€œIt ultimately illustrates that being a Christian is illegal in Iran. No matter how clear or how open a pastor and a church may be, Christians are being brought to trial just for being Christian,â€ said Jason DeMars, director of the Present Truth Ministries advocacy group who is in daily contact with the Evangelical Christian community in Iran.
No verdict has yet been issued in the case.
The attorney for the group, prominent human rights advocate Mohammad Ali Dadkhah — who also represents Youcef Nadarkhani, the Iranian Christian pastor charged with apostasy and sentenced to death for leaving Islam and converting to Christianity — was not able to attend Sundayâ€™s court appearance, according to sources who said his flight from Tehran was fogged in. The 12 represented themselves to the judge.
“Their defense was that they were performing religious rituals that are protected by law,” DeMars said.
Though the Iranian constitution grants protection to religious minorities born into religions, such as Christians, Zoroastrians and Jews, over the last year and a half individuals in these minority communities have reported increased pressure and clashes with government officials and Revolutionary Guards as their influence continues to mount throughout the country.
But converting, or more specifically, the act of turning from Islam, can be punishable by death. To leave the Islamic faith or to attempt to convert others away from the faith warrants capital punishment under Shariah Law.
To read more, visit:Â http://www.foxnews.com/world/2012/04/11/12-christians-stand-trial-on-easter-sunday-in-iran/?test=latestnews#ixzz1rnCVrd4i
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