Three Christians have been sentenced to eighty lashes in Iran for the sin of taking the Holy Sacrament of Communion. The men are Muslim converts to Christianity. They also face more serious charges
Three Iranian men face 80 lashes in public. A Sharia court has sentenced Yaser Mosibzadeh, Saheb Fadayee and Mohammed Reza Omidi to public flogging after they were arrested last May in a home where they secretly celebrated Mass. During the Mass, the men consumed the Blood of Christ. The Sharia court considers the Sacrament to be merely wine and has convicted the men of blasphemy.
In addition to the crime of blasphemy, the men are also accused of threatening national security. They have not been tried on that charge but could face even more severe penalties if convicted
There are 300,000 Christians in Iran, mostly ethnic Armenians and Assyrians. There are some Muslim converts, but this is powerfully discouraged in Iran, which persecutes people who convert to Christianity or who work to promote Christianity in the hard-line Islamic state.
Native and ethnic Christians are generally tolerated, but Muslim converts are not.
It is forbidden under Sharia law for a Muslim to convert to Christianity.
In other countries, the penalty for conversion or for consuming alcohol is even more strict. Christians who convert from Islam can be put to death, sometimes even by their own family members. Iran is relatively progressive in this regard, sentencing the men to only 80 lashes.
The pain of the whipping is often so great people usually faint within the first eight lashes.
At this time, the men are out on bail. Following their punishment, the more serious charges against them will be tried. It is unclear however, how they threatened national security.