08/22/2020 Iran (International Christian Concern) – On Tuesday, Iranian Christian convert Mohammadreza Omidi (Youhan) was released from prison after completing a reduced 24-month sentence. He was convicted for “acting against national security” and “promoting Zionist Christianity.” Upon his release, he was told to report back in 15 days to begin serving the exile portion of his sentence in the city of Borazjan. This was unexpected, as it was previously thought the exile portion was quashed.
Internal exile is one of the latest tactics used by Iran’s government to intimidate and isolate the church. However, as Youhan’s situation demonstrates, the authorities often give a lack of clarity regarding expectations and this can cause issues which worsen the outcome. In a separate case which involved exile, the authorities failed to respond to a request for furlough. When that Christian went home for six days and then returned back to his location of exile, the period of exile was extended by an additional 11-months.
Iran is one of the world’s harshest countries to be a Christian. The government maintains a strict interpretation of Shia Islam and forces this belief on its citizens. However, it is a system that is largely unwelcome by many Iranians. The church is rapidly growing within the country, something which the government harshly responds too.
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