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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.

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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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christian, persecution, charity, church, persecuted, sookhdeo, Islam

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    • The case of an Egyptian Christian man arrested following complaints by Muslim neighbours that he had been using his home as a church without a permit highlights the need of the Christian community for more places of worship. The 55-year-old man from Minya in Upper Egypt, where Christians are particularly vulnerable to persecution, was arrested once before, in 2011, for the same offence. Every church building in Egypt requires a permit, but these are notoriously difficult to obtain. Pray that the authorities will show leniency to the Christian man and that a provision in the new constitution addressing the issue of church buildings will be enacted. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Tue, Sep 2014 00:00

    • Kidnapping for ransom has been a persistent problem for the Christian community in Egypt amid the political upheaval and instability following the “Arab Spring” revolution of 2011. On 14 June, Wadie Ramses, a well-known surgeon, was seized in El-Arish. The assailants opened fire on his vehicle and took him away wounded. They later demanded a ransom of ten million Egyptian Pounds (£800,000; US$1.4 million) for his release. Two days later, Christian merchant Gemal Shenouda was captured near his home in the same city. It is thought that Islamic militants with links to al-Qaeda, who have been behind escalating violence in the Sinai region, are responsible for the kidnappings. Pray for the safe return of our two Christian brothers and that they and their families will know the Lord’s peace. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Mon, Sep 2014 00:00

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    • On 23 June, Vahid Hakkani, a Christian convert in prison in Iran, resumed a hunger strike in protest against the refusal of a court to grant him and two other Christians conditional release. Vahid had broken his previous strike in May after another of his fellow-detainees was set free. The prison authorities have reportedly confiscated his personal belongings from his cell and are denying him the right to make phone calls; they have also separated the Christian prisoners from one another. Even before his first hunger strike, Vahid had been suffering from a digestive problem and internal bleeding. Pray that his health may not fail altogether and that his action will secure justice and freedom for him and his friends (Psalm 69:33). Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Fri, Sep 2014 00:00

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