Four Iranian Christians sentenced, five standing trial, 40 arrested

November 8, 2012 by  
Filed under newsletter-world

Pastor Farhad Sabokrouh and his wife Shahnaz Jeizan

Pastor Farhad Sabokrouh and his wife Shahnaz Jeizan

Iran, November 6, 2012: Four Christians were sentenced to a year in jail, the trial of another five began, and state-sponsored media confirmed the arrest of 40 house-church members: one day in the life of the Iranian Church.

All three of these acts against Christians in Iran took place on 15 October.

Four Christians from the Assemblies of God (AOG) church in Ahwaz, which was raided last Christmas, were sentenced to a year behind bars. Pastor Farhad Sabokrouh, his wife Shahnaz Jeizan, and two lay ministers, Naser Zamen Dezfuli and Davoud Alijani, were found guilty of “converting to Christianity, inviting Muslims to convert, as well as propagating against the Islamic regime through promoting Evangelical Christianity”.

They now have the opportunity to appeal before the final ruling is issued.

Temporarily released on bail, Pastor Farhad has been ordered to leave Ahwaz and not to visit other Christians there or hold any kind of church service.

The AOG church in Ahwaz was raided on 23 December 2011; the entire congregation, including the children, was rounded up. They were all released after a few hours apart from Pastor Farhad, Shahnaz, Naser and Davoud, who were transferred to a detention centre.

Trial begins

The trial of Mojtaba Hosseini, Mohammad-Reza Partoei, Vahid Hakkani, Homayoun Shokouhi and his wife Fariba Nazemian began in Shiraz eight months after their arrest. The couple were not present, but the other three were brought to court with their hands and feet chained together, the way murderers are transferred to court in Iran. The session was held behind closed doors.

Homayoun and Fariba’s son Nima had come to the court, hoping to see his parents. The 17-year-old epileptic had a seizure and passed out in the corridor, prompting the judge to send for Fariba. He offered to release her so that she could go home and care for her son, if she would renounce her faith. But she refused. So a bail payment of around US$200,000 was demanded for Fariba’s temporary release.

House Church sweep

Meanwhile, state-sponsored media confirmed that 40 Christians from four churches in Shiraz and Kavar, Fars province, had been arrested in a sweep by security agents in late September. They are accused of “having contact with the enemies of the Islamic regime abroad” and “holding Christian services at their homes”.

At least one of the detainees has previously been jailed for evangelistic activities amongst Muslims. Some have been freed upon the payment of a hefty bail; others have been transferred to local prisons, while at least ten are being held at the Intelligence Ministry’s notorious private prison.

One of the news outlets that confirmed the arrests, first reported by Iranian Christian sources, launched an attack on new converts to Christianity, saying they are “pathetic, weak-willed and vulnerable individuals, sexual deviants, drug addicts, prostitutes, dysfunctional families suffering financial and emotional difficulties, or mentally deficient, all specifically targeted by Zionist propaganda”.

– barnabas team

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