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Pastor, Church Ministers Sentenced to Total of Four Years

Tuesday, October 30, 2012 (4:54 am)
Posted in: Christian Persecution, Christian Persecution - Middle East, Iran

By Joseph DeCaro, Worthy News Correspondent

iran mapTEHRAN, IRAN (Worthy News)– Arrested just before last Christmas, four Christian converts recently received a total of four years in prison at the Revolutionary Court in Ahwaz according to Christian news agency, Mohabat News.

Under article 500 of the Islamic penal code, Judge Seyyed Mohammad Bagher Mousavi declared Pastor Farhad Sabokrouh and his wife, Shahnaz Jeizan, along with church ministers Naser Zamen Dezfuli and Davoud Alijani, guilty of "Converting to Christianity, inviting Muslims to convert, as well as propagating against the Islamic regime through promoting Evangelical Christianity".

In addition to each defendant receiving one year in prison, security authorities confiscated their belongings, including computers, books, cellphones, DVDs and musical instruments used at their church.

The four converts were arrested during a raid on their church in Ahaz on Dec. 23 as the congregation gathered for service; most were released after they were interrogated and threatened, but the pastor, his wife and the two church ministers were transferred to a detention center for further interrogation.

The official house church of Ahwaz is continually under the scrutiny of the Iranian authorities; although the Ministry of Intelligence oversees all churches and their congregations, Persian speaking services were closed by order of the Revolutionary Guard.

Article 13 of the Iranian constitution states that "Christianity, Judaism and Zoroastrianism are the only recognized non-Islamic religions and their followers are free to practice their faith and perform their ceremonies within the limits of the law and act according to their own canon in matters of personal affairs and religious education."

However, the harassment of religious minorities has been the hallmark of the Islamic Republic of Iran for the last 30 years.

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