The Iranian regime’s incarceration of a woman who converted to Christianity prompted US Vice President Mike Pence on Friday to urge the clerical regime in Tehran to free the persecuted woman.
“I am appalled to hear reports that Iran’s despotic rulers have punished yet another Christian woman for exercising her freedom to worship,” the vice president tweeted to his 7.7 million followers.
He added that, “Iran must free Mahrokh Kanbari today. Whether Sunni, Sufi, Baha’i, Jewish or Christian, America will stand up for people of faith in Iran like Mahrokh and Pastor [Victor] Bet-Tamraz, whose persecutions are an affront to religious freedom.”
According to a Thursday report on the website of The Christian Post news outlet, “An Iranian-Christian convert was sentenced to one year in prison on charges of ‘acting against national security’ and engaging in ‘propaganda against the system’ as crackdowns against Christians continue.”
Iran’s clerical regime has waged a fiercely repressive campaign over the years against Iranian Muslims who convert to Christianity.
The website noted that, “the sentence was handed down to 65-year-old Mahrokh Kanbari on Monday, two days after she appeared before the Islamic Revolutionary Court in Karaj. Friends of Kanbari told the nonprofit group that the judge was rude to the defendant and tried to humiliate her when she disagreed with him.”
Three Iranian intelligence agents arrested Kanbari at her home during Christmas 2018, according to the Christian outlet. Iranian authorities seized “mobile phones, Bibles and other Christian-related materials.”
The advocacy organization International Christian Response wrote on its website: “Mahrokh was then taken to intelligence offices and endured ten days of intensive interrogation from morning to evening, to the distress of family and friends who thought that she would have been shown greater respect on account of her age.”
The Christian Post reported that Kanbari paid a bail fee equivalent to about $2,500, securing her release at the time.
Iran’s opaque judicial system charged her with acting against national security in January – a catch-all allegation to persecute religious and ethnic minorities, as well as political dissidents.
International Christian Response wrote that Kanbari was “ forced to go to a religious leader to be ‘instructed’ and directed to return to Islam.”
Benjamin Weinthal is a European correspondent at The Jerusalem Post and a fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.