Please pray for three Iranian Christians who face the prospect of up to five years in prison under an amended law that is trying to increase restrictions around the expression of Christianity in Iran.
Amin Khaki, Milad Goodarzi and Alireza Nourmohammadi have been charged with ‘propaganda that educates in a deviant way contrary to the holy religion of Islam’, a provision recently added to Article 500 of Iran’s Islamic Penal Code that further chokes freedom of religious expression in the country. If found guilty, Middle East Concern reports, the three men could face between two and five years in prison and/or a fine.
The three men – who were summoned on 5 May before being released on bail – must report to the intelligence branch of Iran’s police force every week for the next six months.
Following the changes to Article 500 – under which the three men have been charged – 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.
Article 19, an organisation promoting freedom of expression and freedom of information, have warned: “While the new provisions impose a threat to anyone who refuses to subscribe to state-sanctioned beliefs and ideologies, they will disproportionately impact individuals belonging to religious and faith-based minorities and ethnic groups.”
These recent changes threaten to further tighten the repression of Christianity in Iran, which is number eight on the World Watch List. The government seeks to enforce Islamic rule in the country, meaning Christian activities are often deemed a ‘national security’ issue, with house churches frequently raided and leaders imprisoned.
In November 2020, several homes belonging to converts were raided by intelligence agents. Mobile phones, computers and Bibles were confiscated, but no arrests were made. The believers were threatened with long prison sentences earlier this year and told it would be better for them to flee the country. They all refused to comply when asked to make commitments to refrain from further Christian activities.
We support people who are beaten, tortured,
imprisoned, falsely accused, and hated simply for following Jesus.