by Karen Faulkner, Worthy News Correspondent
(Worthy News) – A pastor in Iran who is serving a six-year prison sentence on account of his religious activity was suddenly re-arrested on December 26 while on officially approved leave from his jail, Article 18 reports.
Pastor Abdolreza Ali-Haghnejad had been on leave from jail since July but was rearrested together with two of his church members at a Christmas gathering in Bandar Anzali, Article 18 reports. The pastor’s wife, Anahit, was arrested and imprisoned a week later.
All four Christians were ultimately taken to prison in Lakan, Article 18 said. One of the arrested church members was subsequently released on bail on January 6, but the others remain in detention.
Pastor Ali-Haghnejad is a leader in the Church of Iran denomination – the same denomination as Pastor Yousef Nadarkhani, who was sentenced to death for apostasy and whose detention was described as “arbitrary” by a UN working group in 2021.
The rearrest and imprisonment of not only Pastor Ali-Haghnejad but also his two congregants and his wife smacks of the same arbitrariness as the detention of Nadarkhani: as of January 6, no reason for the detentions had been given. Nevertheless, prior to his renewed detention, Iranian officials searched Pastor Ali-Haghnejad’s home and removed his laptop and all his Christian literature, Articles 18 reports.
Ruled by a tyrannical Islamic extremist regime since 1979, Iran ranked 9th on the Open Doors UK World Watch List 2022 of the top 50 countries where Christians are persecuted.