Peter Lamprecht/Compass Direct News

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Iran detains 2 Christians who converted from Islam

ISTANBUL (BP)--Iranian authorities have held two converts to Christianity in the southern city of Shiraz for eight weeks on suspicion of "apostasy," or leaving Islam. In Iran, apostasy is a crime that can be punishable by death.       Compass Direct News, in a July 9 report, said Mahmood Matin, 52, and Arash Bandari, 44, have been imprisoned in a secret police detention center known by its address, Sepah Street 100, since their arrest May 15 in Shiraz, a city of more than 1.75 million people.       A draft penal code under discussion in Iran's parliament may make the death penalty obligatory for those who leave Islam or use the Internet to encourage others to do so.       (Under sharia Islamic law, apostasy is one of several offenses that can be punishable by death, although Islamic court judges are not required to hand down such a sentence, Compass has noted. The draft of the penal code under consideration explicitly sets death as a fixed punishment that cannot be changed.)       Matin's wife was able to speak with him for five minutes during a June 24 visit as officials listened in, a source told Compass Direct News. Matin, seated in a dimly lit room behind a glass window, told his wife that there had been a misunderstanding and he could not teach Christianity anymore.       "They are pushing me to tell them that I am connected to a church outside [Iran] and that I am receiving a salary, but I told them that I am doing it on my own," Matin told his wife, according to a source who requested anonymity for security reasons.       Despite Matin's claims that he was being well treated, his wife told the source she believed otherwise.

Jordan had 27 Christian expulsions in ’07

ISTANBUL (BP)–Jordan has increased pressure on foreign Christians living in the kingdom, expelling many long-time residents over the past 13 months in what local churches see as an attack on their legitimacy. Authorities deported or refused residence permits to at least 27 expatriate Christian families and individuals in 2007, a number of them working with […]

Coordinated bomb blasts target churches in 2 Iraq cities

ISTANBUL (BP)--Several Iraqi Christian sites were damaged in coordinated bomb blasts Sunday morning, Jan. 6, the day many Iraqi Christians celebrated either Epiphany or Christmas Eve according to some Eastern liturgical calendars. At least six people were injured, one seriously.       "Three churches in Baghdad and three in Mosul [were hit], but there were no fatalities," Chaldean Auxiliary Bishop Andreas Abouna told Compass Direct News from Baghdad. The blasts occurred within five minutes of each other at approximately 11 a.m., Abouna said.       Chaldeans, an eastern-rite church in communion with Rome, make up the majority of Iraq's Christians.       Father Bashar Warda of St. Peter's Seminary told Compass, "There has been much violence against the Sunni and Shiites, while the Christians have been left alone, at least for [the past few months]." The blasts, he said, let Chaldeans and Iraq's other indigenous churches know that "whatever [violence] is happening around the country, you [Christians] will be part of it also."