A judge has sent two young Christian women back to jail to consider their options after they refused to deny Christ in court.Maryam Rostampoor, 27, and Marzieh Amirizadeh Esmaeilabad, who is 30, were asked if they would renounce their new faith and return to Islam – but they refused. When asked if they had any regrets over becoming Christians, they said they had none. The judge reportedly sent them back to their cells at the notorious Evin prison in Tehran to 'think about it'.
The women have been held without charge since their arrest on 5 March, although some reports say they have been threatened with apostasy charges, reports Release International.The women have reportedly been unwell and lost a great deal of weight in custody. Marzieh is said to need medical attention for pain in her spine, an infected tooth and intense headaches, but she has received no medical care to date.
The court case is being played out against the backdrop of a violent crackdown on President Ahmadinejad's political opponents – and on Christians. More than 30 Christians were arrested within a fortnight near Tehran and in the northern city of Rasht.On 31 July police raided a special meeting for Christians with a Muslim background, making 24 arrests at a private address in Amameh, just north of Tehran. Most of these Christians were released later that day, but seven remain in detention.
Then, on 7 August, police rearrested some of the same group for more questioning. Police also arrested eight Christians in Rasht in two raids on 29 and 30 July. One of the eight, a man, remains in prison.(Sources: Christian Solidarity Worldwide, Compass Direct, The Voice of the Martyrs Australia)