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10/30/2021 Iran (International Christian Concern) – Five Iranian Christians were summoned to give a final defense on October 16 regarding their activity that led up to their arrest, alongside dozens also arrested in coordinated house-church raids across Tehran, Karaj and Malayer.

The charges levied against them included “weakening the foundation of the family”, “attracting Muslims to house-churches”, “being members of hostile groups to the Islamic Republic in order to damage national security”, “weakening the belief in Muslim clerics”, “propagating Christian Zionism”, and “establishing and organizing corrupt meetings”. Three of the five summoned, Iranian-Armenian Joseph Shahbazian, Mina Khajavi and Somayeh (Sonya) Sadegh, already met with the prosecutor’s office and denied all charges.

Their lawyer claims that all of the accusations are solely based on claims made by the Revolutionary Guard intelligence agents and not on any real evidence. During Mina’s interrogation, officials tossed out her written testimony and ordered her to write what they told her. She was also told that another house-church member brought charges against her, as intelligence agents often pressure converts to secure their own release by accusing others.

Four other Christians, Ismail Narimanpour, Mohammad Ali Torabi, Alireza Vark Shah, and Hojjat Lotfi Khalaf, are facing continued discrimination and persecution from the Revolutionary Guard. Intelligence agents refuse to return the personal belongings of the four converts that were first taken from them in April, despite court mandates.

Iranian human rights lawyer Hossein Ahmadiniaz commented to Article18 saying, “The order of the judiciary is the highest order and must be obeyed, but in practice we see that the security forces act against this order whenever they want, and that no-one – not even the law or the judiciary – can stand against them. It also highlights the great oppression of Christian converts in Iran, and how they are treated with such hostility and resentment by the security forces.”

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