Iranian authorities have a long history of taking any means to protect its Islamic theocracy. With the incredible growth of Christianity in Iran, authorities have responded with repression out of fear. Four more Christians have received lengthy jail sentences in Iran last week, bringing the total to 12. They have been found guilty of “actions against national security.” Christians in Iran are given harsher sentences, intimidated and threatened because of their faith.
07/13/2017 Iran (World Watch Monitor) – Four more Christians received lengthy jail sentences in Iran last week, it has emerged, taking the total number sentenced in the last month to 12.
Yasser Mossayebzadeh, Saheb Fadaie, Mohammad Reza Omidi and Youcef Nadarkhani were each sentenced to ten years in prison. Omidi and Nadarkhani – a pastor who previously served almost three years for apostasy, a charge for which he once faced the death sentence before his release in 2012 – were also sentenced to two years in exile in southern Iran, the opposite side of the country to where their families live. They received their verdicts (dated 24 June) on 6 July, following a hearing on 14 June.
They were each found guilty of “actions against national security”, according to Christian Solidarity Worldwide, which reports that a judge accused their church of receiving £500,000 a year from the British government. Middle East Concerns says they were convicted of “propagating house-churches” and “promoting Zionist Christianity”. Their lawyers have 20 days to appeal and are expected to do so.
The four were initially arrested in May 2016 in the northern city of Rasht, near the Caspian Sea. In October 2016, as part of a separate case, Mossayebzadeh, Fadaie and Omidi were sentenced to 80 lashes each for drinking alcohol (wine) during Holy Communion. (Non-Muslims are permitted to drink alcohol in Iran, but leaving Islam is forbidden, so Iranians cannot be recognised as ‘non-Muslims’.) They are still awaiting the outcome of their appeal against that verdict. It is the second time Omidi has been convicted of drinking alcohol. A third conviction could lead to his execution.