01 February 2024

Update: Three Christians in Iran face continued harassment, despite release from prison

You might remember Amin Khaki, Milad Goudarzi and Alireza Nourmohammadi, three converts in Iran who were imprisoned in 2021 for their Christian activities. Despite being released last year, they continue to come under the scrutiny of the authorities. 

Iran is ninth on the World Watch List, making it a place of extreme persecution for many of its Christians

Three converts in Iran continue to face harassment from the authorities, despite being released from prison last year as part of a general amnesty granted to prisoners for the 44th anniversary of the Islamic Revolution.

Amin Khaki, Milad Goudarzi and Alireza Nourmohammadi were sentenced to five years’ imprisonment in 2021 for ‘engaging in propaganda that educates in a deviant way contrary to the holy religion of Islam’. This was later reduced to three years on appeal. In March 2023, they were released. 

However, on 11 December 2023, all three were rearrested. Whilst Milad was released after several hours but told to expect further questioning, Alireza and Amin remained detained. They were released on 10 January, but face charges of engaging in ‘deviant educational or propaganda activities contrary to the holy Islamic law by making false claims in religious fields’. 

Friends and families of the two men are grateful for their release, but request your prayers for all charges to be dropped.

Iran is ninth on the latest World Watch List. The authorities’ ardent suspicion of converts and their activities stems from their belief that the West is seeking to undermine Islam and the Islamic government of Iran. But despite this persistent hostility, the church in Iran continues to see remarkable growth. Thank you for your prayers – and please keep praying. 

Source: Middle East Concern

Please pray

  • That all charges and harassment against these men will be dropped
  • That the three men and their families will be encouraged and strengthened
  • That the authorities will be impacted by the lives and witness of our family in Iran.

June 2021

Mixed news for four Iranian Christians imprisoned for their faith

In positive news from Iran, Hamed Ashouri – the Iranian Christian who was sentenced to ten months’ imprisonment for Christian activities – has been allowed to spend the rest of his sentence at home with an electronic tag. 

The 31-year-old was arrested in February 2019 for ‘propaganda against the Islamic republic’. The authorities seized Christian items, including Bibles and other Christian literature, as well as computer hard drives when they raided his home.

During interrogations, Hamed refused to inform on other Christians in return for financial reward. He was subsequently beaten. Before beginning his sentence in July, he released a short video explaining that he had been arrested for Christian activities. “I thank God for considering me worthy of enduring this persecution because of Him,” he shared.

Hamed spent just under a month in prison before his release. At least two other Christians have been released from prison this year in Iran with an electronic tag. Whilst their conditional releases are welcome, their freedoms remain severely curtailed as the authorities watch for any Christian activities that might, in their eyes, undermine the Islamic rule of Iran. 

Three Christian men have appeal rejected

Meanwhile, the three Christians who were sentenced to five years’ imprisonment under a recent amendment to Iran’s penal code have had their appeal rejected but their sentences reduced to three years. 

Amin Khaki, Milad Goudarzi and Alireza Nourmohammadi are accused of ‘propaganda that educates in a deviant way contrary to the holy religion of Islam’. The wording is from the recently revised Article 500, which effectively means that any teaching around the Bible or telling others about their Christian faith, which contradicts the teaching of Islam, could result in prosecution, as could the claim that Christians can communicate with Jesus, whom Islamic teaching regards as a prophet. 

The three men were charged following coordinated raids on their homes, and on the homes of nine other Christian families, in November 2020. They are the first Christians convicted under the amended law, which Article 19 – an organisation promoting freedom of expression and freedom of information – believe ‘will disproportionately impact individuals belonging to religious and faith-based minorities and ethnic groups’. The men were also fined 400 million rials (about nine times the average monthly salary in Iran).

These cases reinforce the intense pressures facing Christians in Iran, which is number eight on the World Watch List. The recent changes to Iran’s penal code, which further choke religious freedom, have only made life harder for the country’s Christians. Please keep your Iranian brothers and sisters in your prayers. 

Sources: Article 18 and Middle East Concern

  • For strength, peace and protection for Hamed Ashouri as he adjusts to life with an electronic tag
  • That Amin Khaki, Milad Goudarzi and Alireza Nourmohammadi will know God’s sustaining and comforting presence with them in prison
  • That the Iranian authorities will stop unjustly imprisoning and targeting Christians for peacefully practising and sharing their faith.
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