Name: Mary Mohammadi
Country/Area of Origin: Iran
Background: Christian convert
Reason for Arrest:
In January 2020 Mary was arrested for her participation in Tehran protests against the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps of Iran’s attack on a Ukrainian passenger flight, leading to the untimely deaths of approximately 175 individuals. Upon her arrest, Mary was transported through a few different detention facilities during which she was subjected to physical abuse, starvation, and humiliation, before she was ultimately transferred to Qarchak Prison.
Mary’s formal charges were “disrupting public order by participating in an illegal gathering,” however she was released on a US$ 2,000 bail and was scheduled to have a court hearing in early March. On April 14, Mary’s court hearing was finally held after being postponed for just over a month amidst the spread of the novel coronavirus. Despite the high hopes for Mary’s acquittal, Middle East Concern reports that Mary was sentenced to three months in prison as well as flogging by 10 lashes to be suspended for one year. Mary stated that the judge presiding over her case had repeatedly interrogated her regarding her religious conversion, which had no relationship to her arrest this year or subsequent charges, which begs the question of whether the depth of Mary’s sentencing and punishment has more to do with her faith. NGOs in Iran report that the suspended sentence is a way to scare Mary into keeping silent about her faith and religious persecution.
Middle East Concern reported that Mary took to her personal Instagram account on April 21, stating that she was unjustly convicted “because of showing sympathy for the families of those who perished on the Ukraine airline crash…there was no evidence against me, so I ought to have been acquitted, but instead I was sentenced not only to imprisonment, but also flogging…”
- In February 2021, Family Research Council’s Senior Fellow for International Religious Freedom, Leila Gilbert, shared that she had conducted an interview with Mary. Mary shared the following remarks:
- “Actually, nobody evangelized me. I had lots of questions about God and religions even as a child. I decided to start researching at the age of 17. I didn’t know anything about restrictions. For example, in Iran, filtering, censorship, and of course, security issues make such research absolutely difficult.“
- “Although at first, I didn’t have any special feelings for Christianity, I came to find truth, love, life, humanity, forgiveness, calmness. Whatever we need to make the best world I found in the message of Jesus Christ.”
- “When I go out, I’m not really sure that I’ll be able to return to my house. On 18 January 2021, as I was walking in Valiy-e asr square, the morality police stopped me and transferred me to Vozara Detention Center; the same place I’d found myself stripped of my clothes and abused the year before. This time I was there for 1.5 hours. The reasons authorities gave for my arrest? Headscarf wasn’t correctly adjusted, tight trousers, short and unbuttoned coat. Please, imagine wearing your normal clothes while you’re walking along the street and suddenly, you are arrested for it. How do you feel?“
- “Then, on 27 October, I was summoned by telephone – without any specific details – by the security police. I refused to go.“