We give thanks to God this week for the release from prison of two Christians in Iran.
Naser Navard Gol-Tapeh was released part-way through a ten-year prison sentence on Monday. Fariba Dalir was set free the following day. It’s not known whether their release is linked with the recent disturbances reported at Iran’s Evin prison, where Christians are being held along with political prisoners.
Naser (pictured) has featured prominently in Release International’s Prisoners of Faith profiles. His story was one we shared on our stand at summer Bible conferences this year. So, if you have been praying for him since hearing his story, thank you for doing so: we now rejoice before the Lord at his freedom!
Naser was arrested in 2016 when Iranian intelligence officers raided an engagement party near Tehran. He was subjected to intense interrogation and eventually charged with ‘acting against national security through the formation and establishment of an illegal church organisation in his home’.
Fariba (pictured) was arrested with five other Christians in July last year. She was sentenced to five years in prison for a similar ‘crime’ of ‘acting against national security by establishing and leading an Evangelical Christian Church.’ House churches are illegal in Iran, and those who set them up or join them are often treated as enemies of the state.
In Iran ethnic-minority Christian churches are permitted but the Persian-speaking majority people are deemed to be Muslim. For them to convert to Christ is considered an act of betrayal against both Islam and the state.
News of the release of Naser and Fariba comes in the midst of widespread anti-government protests in Iran.