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ICC Note: An entire congregation of 12 Iranian believers was recently sentenced one year in prison each. Their charges make it clear that Iran does not want Christianity to flourish, even though Iran has frequently denied otherwise. The regime often points to how Christians are guaranteed seats in the parliament. However, the only Christians who are recognized are those who can prove that this faith identity existed prior to the revolution.

08/17/2018 Iran (CBN) –   Iran’s Islamic regime has sentenced an Iranian couple to prison for practicing Christianity and also sentenced every member of their church to one year in prison.

Article 18, an organization that supports Iranian Christians tweeted on Thursday that “A Christian couple have reported that a court in Boushehr has just sentenced them & 10 other Iranian Christians to one year in prison each for ‘Propagating against the Islamic Republic in favor of Christianity.’ This group of Christian converts was arrested on April 7, 2015.”

The Christian website Mohabat News reported last week that the Iranian couple was charged with “orientation toward the land of Christianity.”

Jeff King, the president of International Christian Concern, confirmed to The Jerusalem Post on Friday that each member of the congregation was also sentenced to a year in prison.

“Getting information on the arrests of Christians is incredibly challenging given the heavily censored nature of Iran,” King said. “But based on the cases we have been tracking, this is the first time this year that we’ve seen a jail sentence being given based on the charge of ‘inclination to the land of Christianity.’ This could be interpreted as a reference to Israel, the birthplace of Christianity and also a country that Iran has adopted a very aggressive stance towards.”

Christianity is a legally recognized religion in the Islamic Republic of Iran.  According to the Iran 2017 International Religious Freedom Report prepared by the US State Department, the Iranian constitution allows Zoroastrians, Jews, and Christians (excluding converts from Islam) as the only recognized religious minorities permitted to worship and form religious societies “within the limits of the law.”

However, the report also notes “the penal code specifies the death sentence for proselytizing and attempts by non-Muslims to convert Muslims, as well as for moharebeh (“enmity against God”) and sabb al-nabi (“insulting the prophet”).”

The state department report also adds “the government continued to harass, interrogate, and arrest Bahais, Christians (particularly converts), Sunni Muslims, and other religious minorities and regulated Christian religious practices closely to enforce a prohibition on proselytizing.”

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