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Nine Iranian Christians sentenced to five years in prison

Please pray for nine Iranian Christians who have been each receive five-year prison sentences for 'acting against national security'.

They heard the verdict on 13 October, after a short hearing late September. The nine are all converts to Christianity from Islam and members of the non-Trinitarian 'Church of Iran'. Their names are Haghnejad and Khalil Dehkanpour, Hossein (Elisha) Kadivar, Kamal Naamanian, Mohammed Vafada, Shahrooz Eslamdous, Babak Hosseinzadeh, Mehdi Khatibi and Behnam Akhlaghi.

They were arrested in a series of raids in northern city of Rasht in January and February. Three of them, as well as Abdolreza Ali Haghnejad, had been co-leading a house church in the absence of their pastor, Youcef Nadarkhani. Nadarkhani was sentenced to 10 years in prison in July 2017 and recently went on a hunger strike to protest the treatment of his children by the education authorities.  

The church members appeared in two groups before judges at the end of July, where they were told the Bible is fabricated and that they were 'promoting Zionism'.

Five of them, including Pastor Haghnejad, were sent back to Evin prison under increased bail after their lawyer was rejected by Judge Mohammed Moghiseh and they refused to accept an alternative lawyer appointed by the court. 

The men are appealing their sentences.

Evin Prison

Evin Prison, Iran

Iran is number 9 on the 2019 World Watch List. Christians make up less than one per cent of the population, but it is believed that the number of converts is increasingly rapidly. A new documentarySheep Among Wolves, has been produced by Frontier Alliance International about large numbers of Iranians converting to Christianity in response to a women-led movement.

Please pray

Friends of those who have been sentenced request prayer for them and their families that:

  • the Lord will encourage the nine men and their families and that their faith in Christ will be strengthened
  • the appeal will be successful and the unjust sentences overturned
  • Iranian citizens will no longer be persecuted because of their faith.

Information in this story comes from Middle East Concern.