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07/11/2019 Iran (International Christian Concern) –   Five Iranian Christian converts were summoned to begin serving prison sentences starting July 5th. Their homes were originally raided in December 2017 as Christians gathered for worship.

The five Christians are Amin Khaki, Milad Gourdarzi, Shahab Shahi, Yaghub Nateghi and Alireza Nourmohamad’s. All five are members of the Church of Iran and were initially taken to an unknown location where they faced interrogations. In early 2018, they posted bail and were released from prison. For the next several months, no movement was taken on their case. Then in November 2018, all were summoned to court where they faced national security related charges.

This past March, their sentences were finally issued. The Christians made an appeal but unfortunately the case was lost in June. On July 5th, all were sent a text message saying that they should present themselves to the Central Prison of Karaj to begin serving their sentences. Khaki was sentenced to 14 months in jail for anti-regime propaganda and establishing house churches. The others were sentenced to 4 months for anti-regime propaganda. State media filmed their families waving goodbye as the men went off to prison and broadcast the footage as an example intended to discourage Christians from broadcasting their faith

According to Open Doors, Iran is the 9th most difficult country for Christians to live. The Iranian constitution defines Shia Islam as the official state religion and designates Sharia as the basis for all laws. Muslims are prohibited from changing their religion and face penalties for converting to Christianity. The United States Commission for International Religious Freedom rates Iran as a Tier 1 Country of Particular Concern.

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