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Christian convert jailed for six years in Iran; another set free

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Christian convert jailed for six years in Iran; another set free

Country/Region: Middle East and North Africa, Iran

A Christian convert from Islam has been sentenced to six years in prison, while another believer has been unexpectedly set free after six months behind bars in Iran.

Farshid Fathi Malayeri was arrested by the security forces in Tehran on 26 December 2010 as part of a major crackdown on the country’s house church movement in which dozens of Christians were arrested.

iran%204X3.jpg
A map showing the location of Iran

The married father of two has been held in the notorious Evin prison ever since, spending several months in solitary confinement.

Farshid was tried in a court based at the prison in January this year after his case had been postponed several times. The details of the hearing have not been made public, but Iranian Christian sources said he was accused of “action against the regime’s security, being in contact with foreign organisations and religious propaganda”; his only “crime” was practising his Christian faith.

Farshid was sentenced in 5 March to six years in prison. His lawyer is expected to lodge an appeal against the sentence.

Christian prisoner released

In more encouraging news, Fariborz Azarm, a Christian from Rabat Karim, was unexpectedly released from prison on 11 April, having spent six months behind bars.

He had been arrested by plainclothes state security agents during the early hours of 17 October 2011 and taken to an unknown location. Fariborz (44), who is married with two children, was denied access to his family for the majority of his time in prison.

Eshan_Behrooz_4X3.jpg
Eshan Behrooz
may also be released soon
Image source: FCNN

Iranian officials have reportedly promised to release within the next month another detained Christian, Eshan Behrooz, who is being held in Vakil Abad prison, in Mashhad. Many secret executions have taken place at that prison since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

The university student was arrested on 8 July 2010 along with other new converts who were travelling together to meet with other Christians in the city of Bojnord. All but three of them were freed after a week; Eshan and a married couple refused to sign statements so were held in custody.

Eshan was temporarily released three months later upon the payment of an US$60,000 bail, pending future trial. He was kept under surveillance, which caused his physical and psychological health to suffer.

Then in 23 October 2011 he suddenly disappeared. Eshan’s family, anxious about his whereabouts, were not informed for some weeks that he had been recalled to the Islamic Revolutionary Courts and re-imprisoned.

Eshan has been held in detention for the last five months without any evidence of wrongdoing or charges being brought against him.

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  • Cry out to the Lord for Christians in the Central African Republic (CAR) who have been driven from their homes by the violence that has engulfed their country. Attacks by Islamist Séléka militants and retaliation from “anti-balaka” militias has generated a huge humanitarian crisis in which around two million people, many of them Christians, are in need of emergency assistance. Give thanks for the work of Barnabas partners who have been providing food rations to hundreds of displaced believers in the capital, Bangui, and distributing food, medicines, clothing and seeds to thousands in various regions. Pray that the aid will reach those who need it most, and that the Lord will comfort the relatives and friends of the thousands who have been killed in the fighting. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Thu, Apr 2014 00:00

  • “Jesus Christ performed tremendous miracles in all our lives through this Shalom Camp.” A pastor spoke of how God had worked through a Barnabas-sponsored weekend Bible camp for persecuted Christians in Sri Lanka. The camp was attended by believers from five different churches that had been the target of threats or attacks by Buddhist or Hindu extremists. The participants heard teaching on the Biblical basis for persecution and took part in group discussions; they came away refreshed and encouraged, and for many the camp was a time of great spiritual renewal. Give thanks to the Lord for the peace He has brought to these persecuted believers, and ask that the weekend will continue to bear much fruit in their lives. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Wed, Apr 2014 00:00

  • Pray for a church leader in Sri Lanka, S.S. Johnpillai, who was threatened at gunpoint by attackers who claimed to be Special Forces officers. The minister was in a hut next to his church building in Guadalupe, Trincomolee when, he said, the men “appeared out of nowhere”. The intruders put a gun to Johnpillai’s head and accused him of holding a Communion service in honour of the founder of the Tamil Tigers, the government’s opponents in the country’s long and bloody civil war. The government had that day made it a criminal offence to commemorate the group. The gunmen ignored Johnpillai’s protests that he had not dedicated Communion to the group’s founder, and they threatened to shoot him. Ask the Lord to support and strengthen Johnpillai as he recovers from this terrifying ordeal. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Tue, Apr 2014 00:00

  • Lift up to the Lord persecuted Christians in Sri Lanka, where at least 65 anti-Christian incidents took place during 2013, including repeat attacks on several believers and their property in October 2013. However, a Sri Lankan government minister from a Buddhist nationalist party denied the accounts, saying that they might be “made up”. The minister claimed that Sri Lankans are “one family … trying to live together after a long civil war”. Pray that the Sri Lankan government will recognise the danger that our brothers and sisters face from militant Buddhists and that the authorities will provide effective protection for vulnerable Christians. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Mon, Apr 2014 00:00

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