Iran Bulldozed Grave Of Pastor Executed For His Christian Faith

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Shortly before his execution, Soodmand wrote to friends who had fled Iran: “By following the example of the great shepherd of the flock, the Lord Jesus Christ, I am willing to sacrifice my life for my sheep. My escape from these dangers would weaken the flock of God and discourage them. I don’t want to be a bad example to them, so I am ready to go to jail again and, if necessary, even to give my life for them.”

The grave of the Rev. Hossein Soodmand, the only Iranian pastor confirmed to have been formally sentenced for quitting Islam and then executed by Iran’s regime, has been bulldozed by the Iranian authorities.

Rev Hossein Soodmand, who converted before the 1979 Islamic Revolution, was arrested and tortured before being hanged after a sharia court convicted him of apostasy (converting from Islam to Christianity).

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The last person ever to be executed for the crime of abandoning one’s religion, Rev Soodmand was buried in ‘cursed ground’ in the city of Mashhad.

Shortly before his execution, Soodmand wrote to friends who had fled Iran: “By following the example of the great shepherd of the flock, the Lord Jesus Christ, I am willing to sacrifice my life for my sheep. My escape from these dangers would weaken the flock of God and discourage them. I don’t want to be a bad example to them, so I am ready to go to jail again and, if necessary, even to give my life for them.”

In early December last year, his unmarked grave, over which his family could only lay a simple slab of stone, was bulldozed.

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Article18, an organization that promotes religious freedom in Iran, first reported on the shocking desecration of Soodmand’s grave, which was located on the edge of the Behesht-e Reza cemetery in Mashhad, Iran’s second-largest city. The Christian leader was executed for apostasy by Iran’s regime on December 3, 1990.

The pastor’s daughter, Rashin Soodmand, who now lives in exile in Europe, told Article18: “As a member of the family of this martyred pastor, I can say that the recent disrespect shown to our father’s grave wounded our hearts yet again, according to Fox News.

“Our father was killed cruelly and contrary to the law. They buried him in a place they called la’anatabad [accursed place], without our knowledge, and did not even give our family the opportunity to say goodbye to him, or to see his lifeless body,” Rashin Soodmand told Article18.

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She continued, “For years we had to travel to this remote place to visit his unmarked grave, and we were not even allowed to construct a gravestone bearing his name. And now they want to completely remove the only sign of him left for us. We will take our appeal to any relevant national or international institution about this disrespect and cruelty.”

A spokesman said the family discovered the desecrated grave when they went to visit on the anniversary of his hanging –December 3.

“The Iranian authorities certainly made the call,” the spokesman added. “We don’t know who exactly — perhaps the local mayor — but our understanding is they are expanding the cemetery and selling off plots to wealthy families who can afford them. “

Soodmand converted to Christianity before the 1979 Islamic Revolution. According to Article18, he was active in the Christian organization the Bible Society, and oversaw the Episcopalian church of Isfahan and later the Assemblies of God church in Mashhad.

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Iran’s radical Islamic regime, which has engaged in the massive repression of Muslims who converted to Christianity, arrested Soodmand in 1990. He was “tortured and held in solitary confinement for one month,” wrote Article18.

Shortly before his execution, Soodmand wrote to friends who had fled Iran: “By following the example of the great shepherd of the flock, the Lord Jesus Christ, I am willing to sacrifice my life for my sheep. My escape from these dangers would weaken the flock of God and discourage them. I don’t want to be a bad example to them, so I am ready to go to jail again and, if necessary, even to give my life for them.”

Iran ranks 9th on Christian support organization Open Doors 2020 World Watch list of the 50 countries where it is most difficult to be a Christian.

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