Six years in prison for being a Christian leader. That’s the sentence for Farshid Fathi, confirmed again after an appeal was turned down earlier this month. And it’s a sentence denounced as wholly cruel and unjust not only by human rights agencies and Christian groups around the world, but also most tellingly by the son of one of Iran’s most senior clerics.
Ayatollah Khazali has been a member of Iran’s Guardian Council which has the final say on all legislation passed by parliament. His son, Dr. Mehdi Khazali, has met Farshid Fathi in prison. In a recent interview Dr. Khazali praised Farshid’s character. He said:
'Farshid was really a very polite young man, with good manners, and with a very sweet and warm smile always on his face… No one in ward 350 had ever seen an angry reaction from Farshid or any acts that can be described as unethical.'
And he was very clear about the injustice of the sentence. Dr. Khazali said the judge who upheld this sentence 'has trampled upon humanity' and he hoped he and the other prosecutors would 'realize their wrong doing and amend their ways'. He said the sentence was neither fair, nor rational, nor sane. He also said very firmly that it was not in line with what his religion taught.
It is likely there are many other Iranians within or on the fringes of the political establishment who are also doubtful about the wisdom of persecuting Christians and feel that the sentence for Farshid Fathi is wholly inappropriate. It might be that Farshid’s suffering is serving a wider purpose than can be seen at the moment.
• Farshid in prison – spiritual, emotional, and physical health
• Farshid’s wife and children
• The arguments of Dr Mehdi Khazali to persuade Iran’s rulers to change their policy of persecution towards Christians.