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Six-year jail sentence for Iranian churc...

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Six-year jail sentence for Iranian church leader upheld

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Six-year jail sentence for Iranian church leader upheld

Country/Region: Iran, Middle East and North Africa

A six-year prison sentence for an Iranian pastor, who was arrested as part of a major crackdown on the country’s house church movement, has been upheld following an unsuccessful appeal hearing.

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Farshid Fathi Malayeri was convicted by a court in Tehran of being the chief agent of foreign organisations in Iran and of administering funds for foreign organisations. The political charges are a pretext for locking up the pastor, a convert from Islam to Christianity, on account of his faith.

Farshid was originally sentenced to six years in prison on 5 March after several delays to his trial; at that point he had already been detained for 14 months, including over 100 days in solitary confinement. Both the verdict and sentence were upheld on appeal at the end of June. Farshid, a married father of two, will serve out his term in the notorious Evin Prison. 

Concerns have been raised about the lack of due process in the case. Farshid’s lawyer was denied full access to his case until just a few days before the initial hearing. The pastor was not released on bail despite his family presenting the title deeds to their home. And it seems that the authorities toyed with him; at one point Farshid was told to pack his belongings and was led out to the prison gate, only to be returned immediately to his cell.

Farshid was among dozens of Christians arrested on 26 December in a major crackdown on the country’s house church movement. Many of those detained were released after making exorbitant bail payments.   

The Iranian authorities conduct frequent raids on house churches in their desperate efforts to stop the spread of Christianity in the country. In one recent incident, a Christian artist and his heavily pregnant wife, both converts from Islam, were among those detained in a house church raid by plain clothes security officers in Mashhad.

Vahid Zarday, who has collaborated with a number of famous Iranian artists and received awards as a music composer, was taken to an unknown location. His wife was temporarily released on account of her condition.

Vahid has previously been arrested, five years ago, because of his Christian faith. On that occasion he was interrogated for 48 hours and subjected to mental torture, which affected him for a long time.

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  • “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 23 hours ago

  • 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

  • Condemned Christian mother Aasia Bibi’s final appeal hearing is scheduled to take place tomorrow (14 April) having been deferred twice. She was sentenced to death for blasphemy in November 2010 having been falsely accused of insulting Muhammad following an argument with Muslim co-workers. Aasia has been languishing in jail since the accusation was made in June 2009. Pray that her appeal will finally go ahead and that the judges will have the courage to acquit and release Aasia; there are concerns that they may give in to pressure from hardline Islamists who have been calling for her execution. Pray that Aasia, her husband and children will know the Lord’s peace as they await the verdict. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Sun, Apr 2014 00:00

  • Indians have started going to the polls this week in a general election that is taking place in phases until 12 May. The ruling, secular Congress party is expected to be defeated by the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). This would be an ominous outcome for the country’s Christian minority. The BJP has given support to extremist groups that attack Christians; states under the party’s rule have generally experienced a rise in anti-Christian violence. It has introduced anti-conversion laws on a state level, and has pledged to introduce national legislation to curb "missionary" activity and end proselytising if elected nationally. Pray for wisdom for Indians as they vote and that the outcome will result in a just government that upholds the rights and freedoms of all citizens. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Sat, Apr 2014 00:00

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