Sunday Express:- THREE Christians face being flogged after drinking Holy Communion wine as the Iranian authorities continue to crackdown on non-Islamic religions.
In a shock move, oppressive officials in Tehran have charged the three with “acting against national security” for taking part in the Christian ritual.
The Christian converts are due to appear in court next week and if found guilty face punishment by flogging.
Iranian police arrested Yasser Mossayebzadeh, Saheb Fadaie and Mohammad Reza Omidi in May, alongside Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani and his wife.
The pastor and his wife have since been released without charge but the trio remain behind bars.
Holy Communion wine, also known as sacramental wine, is used by billions of Christians worldwide in celebration of the Eucharist.
It is often watered down and is used during Holy Communion alongside small bread wafers, known as Sacramental Bread.
Drinking alcohol in Iran is forbidden under the country’s strick Sharia Islamic law, but despite the ban enjoying a sly tipple at home is believed to be widespread amongst its 80 million strong population.
The trio of Christians could be flogged at a police station if found guilty of any crime.
Offenders are normally sentenced to between 10 and 100 lashes across the back with a three-foot long whip.
Many people faint after eight strokes due to the severe pain.
The use of the corporal punishment has come under fire from humanitarian organisations who say the penalty amounts to torture.
Amnesty International said last year courts in Iran “continued to impose, and the authorities continued to carry out, punishments that violate the prohibition of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading punishment.
These were sometimes carried out in public and included flogging, blinding and amputations.”
People can also be flogged for adultery, kissing in public, homosexual acts and blasphemy in Iran.
Elaheh Azimfar, from the National Council of Resistance of Iran, condemned the punishment.
Ms Azimfar said: “Iran’s regime continues to hand down brutal punishments such as flogging under the banner of Islam; whereas in reality this is a medieval punishment that has nothing to do with Islam.
“Only a few months ago the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and the German Foreign Ministry condemned the regime for flogging a group of students that had attended a graduation party. However the regime’s officials continue to carry out this brutal practice.
In June, the Deputy Prosecutor General in Shiraz announced that 500 people had been arrested and 480 of them had been tried and convicted within 24 hours for publicly breaking their fast during Ramadan.
Most received flogging sentences administered by the Office for Implementation of Sentences. Some floggings were reportedly carried out in public.
The arrests and potential conviction of the Christians come as the regime clamps down on underground churches.
“Underground churches are increasingly monitored, which makes some afraid to attend, and at least 108 Christians were arrested in the last year. Interrogation methods in prison can be harsh and sexually abusive.”