Marzieh Amirizadeh, 30, and Maryam Rustampoor, 27, have been held for over four months in Tehran’s notorious Evin prison apparently for converting to Christianity from Islam.
Iranian Christians and rights investigators said the two young women, who were arrested March 5, suffered sleep deprivation as part of police interrogations and were held in solitary confinement for three weeks in May and early June.
Later, they were put together in one small cell for about two weeks before being moved to a larger area to make place for other inmates as many protesters were detained following last month’s disputed presidential elections, said Christians with close knowledge about the situation.
About 600 women were reportedly brought to Evin prison during the protests.
After international pressure, the Iranian Government’s Parliamentary Committee reportedly removed articles stipulating the death penalty for apostasy from the Islamic Penal Code Bill, but the changes have to be approved by legislators.
Gospel superstar Andrae Crouch and his twin sister, Sandra, confirm meeting with Michael Jackson and praying and singing with him weeks before his death.
Jackson, raised as a member of the Jehovah’s Witness sect and reportedly a convert to Islam last year, sought out the Crouches for inspiration for his upcoming tour, for which he was unprepared, according to a report in Assist News Service.
But while some blogs have reported that meeting led to a spiritual conversion by Jackson, the Crouches say they are not certain.
“Not sure where that came from,” said Sandra Crouch on her Facebook page. “We loved and respected Michael and will continue to pray for his family. All the extra is not from us.”
A spokesman for the Crouches had this to add: “Andrae and Sandra did in fact visit with Michael Jackson two times, once at the recording studio, and once at his home in the last two months, as recently as three weeks ago, asking for prayer concerning the anointing of the Holy Spirit, and how he could make his music more ‘spiritual.’ So Andrae and Sandra explained to him about the anointing and about Jesus. He wanted to know what makes your hands go up, and makes you ‘come out of yourself,’ and what gives a ‘spirituality’ to the music? He then requested to hear his favorite song that he loves and wanted the(m) to sing to him, so they … joined hands and sang together, and he said, ‘It was beautiful.’ He first heard it in New York, and loved it and wanted it on tape. He had the engineer tape the song sang to him by Andrae and Sandra. He definitely had an encounter with them.”
The Crouch spokesman said: “He did NOT reject Jesus or the prayer when (we) prayed, and gladly joined in prayer. He usually doesn’t touch anybody, but he touched them, and held their hands in a circle as they sang and prayed. There was NO actual ‘sinners prayer’ however, but they did talk and pray about Jesus and the anointing of the Holy Spirit. They also told him, ‘Michael, we consider you as our son,’ and he said, ‘Yes, yes, yes’ and gave him his latest music on a CD, and he told him, ‘Andrae I trust you with this,’ and gave him CDs of 2 songs … unpublished, beautiful music.”