Coordinated raids and harsh sentences as Iran cracks down on Christians

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Iranian officials have arrested at least 12 Christians in coordinated raids across three cities – and given harsh sentences to seven others.

Last Tuesday, security agents raided a Christian meeting in Tehran. Seven believers  were handcuffed, blindfolded, abused and taken away; five others were arrested at their homes in two nearby cities. It is believed that an informant infiltrated the group and tipped off the authorities.

Three of the 12 detainees were later released on bail but it is thought that nine remain in custody.

Also last week, a court handed down tough prison sentences and fines to seven Christian converts arrested in Bushehr a year ago.

The four men received custodial sentences for belonging to a group ‘hostile to the regime’: brothers Sam and Sasan Khosravi were sentenced to a year in prison, plus two years in internal exile. Habib Heydari was given a one-year sentence, while Pooriya Peyma was sentenced to 91 days. The women – Maryam, Marjan and Fatemeh – were fined; Maryam, a nurse, was banned from working in the public sector.

Christians in Iran are concerned that legislation recently approved by Parliament could mean more arrests and harsher sentences for religious minorities. Amendments to the Penal Code mean that those convicted of ‘deviant psychological manipulation’ or ‘propaganda contrary to Islam’ could be seen as ‘sects’ – and banned.

  • Please pray that God will give steadfast faith to those recently arrested and convicted in Iran. Some of them have only recently come to Christ: pray that they will ‘hold unswervingly’ to hope, knowing that God is faithful (Hebrews 10:23). Please pray that the nine who remain in custody will be released.
  • Pray for a change of heart among Iranian officials, that they will start to see Christians as good citizens, not as opponents.
  • Pray that the legislation recently passed by Parliament will not be implemented: it has yet to be approved by the Guardian Council.

(Sources: Middle East Concern; Morning Star News; Release partners)

For a poignant and powerful account of what life is like for Christians living in Iran today, watch our interviewwith Rashin Soodmand and her husband, Rev Amir Bazmjou, recorded to mark the Day of the Christian Martyr.

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You can also read more news from Iran in our latest edition of Voice magazine – New Life for Farah.