By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent
(Worthy News) – Three Iranian men who abandoned Islam to embrace faith in Christ were summoned by Iranian authorities to serve three-year jail sentences, Christians told Worthy News.
In a statement released Monday, Christians said Milad Gourdazi, Amin Khaki, and Alireza Nourmohammadi were told to turn themselves in Wednesday, November 10.
Their troubles began November 11 last year when Iranian intelligence agents reportedly raided their homes and of other converts seizing Bibles, cell phones, and computers.
No one was detained at the time, but the converts faced harassment and were “ordered to abstain from Christian activities,” which “they refused to do, “ supporters said.
In June, Gourdazi, Khaki, and Nourmohammadi
received the maximum five-year prison sentence on charges linked to their Christian activities, according to trial observers.
Prosecutors reportedly accused them of “propaganda that educates in a deviant way contrary to the holy religion of Islam.” They were also fined 40 million tomans (about $1,600), Worthy News learned.
An appeals court upheld the convictions on August 25 but reduced the prison terms for the three Christians to three years each, Christians said.
An initial prison summons for September was reportedly postponed due to an additional court hearing set for December 16.
However, “the three have now been informed their presence is not required at that hearing,” explained advocacy group Middle East Concern (MEC) which closely followed the case.
The men were “ordered to turn themselves in on November 10 to start serving their sentences,” MEC confirmed to Worthy News.
In remarks shared with Worthy News, Iranian Christians urged prayers that God will encourage and strengthen” the three who “go to prison on account of their Christian faith.”
They also pray for their families and for “God to
provide for them throughout the prison term” and that the December 16 court hearing will allow “an early release” of the converts.
Iranian Christians also pray that “authorities will stop persecuting religious minorities for the peaceful expression of their faith.”
Concerns about minority Christians have grown under President Ebrahim Raisi, a hardline cleric and ally of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei appointed as Supreme Leader for life in June 1989.
President Raisi won this year’s election against conservative candidates, as reform supporters were barred from participating.
Despite a crackdown, Christianity is spreading in the strict Islamic nation.
There are at least 800,000 Christians in Iran, among some 84 million mainly Muslim people, church groups say.
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