Children of imprisoned Iranian pastor went to resume in school but were rejected because they haven’t completed the previous grades.
The 17 year-old son of the pastor, Daniel was accepted as a “guest” in the 12th grades without certificate stating he has completed the previous grades, while the youngest two children were told they can’t come back because there is no proof of completion of the previous grades
Yousef Nadarkahni decided to go on hunger strike in order to protest the attempt of barring his children from school because of the refusal to read Quran and study Islam.
The pastor was first arrested in 2009 over protest on education policies that is now affecting his children requiring students a must to take course on the Quran.
He was arrested again in May 2016 and charged with promoting “Zionist Christianity,” and violating the national alcohol prohibition through communion and acting against national security.
According to Christian Post, Nadarkhani was first arrested in 2009 for protesting the same education policy that is penalizing his children today. The policy requires all students to take a course on the Quran.
With Nadarkhani and his wife being Muslim converts to Christianity, they protested against their children being taught Islam in school. For that reason, the pastor was charged with apostasy and sentenced to death. However, he was acquitted in 2012.
Article 18 reports that Nardarkhani tried to ensure his children were recognized as Christians before he was sent back to prison in 2018 so they wouldn’t have to take Islamic studies. However, the matter has yet to be resolved with local authorities despite a court ruling in the family’s favor.
Because of this, the Nardarkhani children were not given certificates to show that they are Christians and have completed their studies.
Although Youeil, 15, and Hannah, 16, were set to start the 10th grade this fall, they have not received certificates to show that they completed the previous grades.
The certificate denials come as the three children were accepted to school as fully paying students but labeled as “guests” until the family’s legal case is resolved.
According to Article 18, religious minorities are typically exempt from Islamic studies classes. However, Iran provides less freedom for Muslim converts, such as the Nardarkhanis, whom the state still considers to be Muslim.
The U.S. State Department lists Iran as a “country of particular concern” for egregious violations of religious freedom. Iran is ranked as the ninth-worst country in the world when it comes to Christian persecution, according to Open Doors USA’s 2019 World Watch List.
Despite severe persecution against Christians, the underground church movement in the Islamic Republic continues to grow as there are over 800,000 Christians in Iran, according to Open Doors.
“Converts from Islam are considered apostate and do not enjoy religious legal protection under Iranian law,” Open Doors reported in a December 2018 dossier on Iran. “They are subject to the death penalty under Sharia law. They lose their right to inherit family possessions. They are still considered Muslim and (their children) are therefore obliged to follow Islamic education.”
According to Open Doors USA, which monitors persecution in dozens of countries, Christians are prohibited from sharing their faith with non-Christians. Additionally, Muslims are not allowed to visit church services. Christians that do reach out to non-Christians run the risk of having their churches closed by authorities.
In August, a Christian convert was sentenced to one year in prison for “acting against national security.” Mahrokh Kanbari was arrested at her home last Christmas Eve. According to International Christian Response, she was directed to receive instruction from a religious leader to return to Islam.
Earlier this year, authorities arrested a bookseller from the Kurdish town of Bukan for selling the Bible.
An Iranian Christian whose family is imprisoned in Iran met with President Donald Trump in July as part of a White House meeting with survivors of persecution.
Dabrina Bet Tamraz, who’s family’s house church was shut down in 2009, told Trump that her father was sentenced to 10 years in prison for “acting against national security by forming home churches, attending seminars abroad and proselytizing Zionist Christianity.”
“[Christian converts] have no rights in our country,” Tamraz stressed. “I am standing here today to raise awareness.”