09/07/2020 Iran (International Christian Concern) – Three weeks ago, Iranian Christian convert Mohammadreza Omidi (Youhan) was released from prison after completing a reduced 24-month sentence. At the time, it was unclear whether he would have to serve internal exile. However, recent news reports indicate that he will indeed have to serve two years of internal exile in the city of Borazjan, over a 1,000 kilometers away.
Internal exile is a relatively new tactic that is applied by the Iranian government towards Christian converts. The church in Iran is the fastest growing in the Middle East, and also one of the world’s most persecuted Christian communities. The government makes every attempt at keeping the church underground and isolated from each other. They hope that sentences of internal exile will keep communities from reforming following a Christian’s release from prison.
Internal exile also forces the Christian far from their family. Many Christians already miss watching their children grow up because long prison sentences, and internal exile deepens this pain. Additionally, when a Christian is released from prison, they are marked as a criminal which makes it difficult for locating jobs. This difficulty is further enhanced through internal exile, as a number of conditions are also placed on the Christian (such as daily check-ins).
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