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World News

8 Christian converts granted temporary prison release in Iran

by Heather Preston

Eight Iranian Christian converts have been temporarily released from prison.

The men, who were arrested in 2019 and sentenced to five years' imprisonment for "acting against national security" were released on 1st January pending a review of their sentences. 

It comes after fellow Christian convert Pastor Matthias Abdolreza Ali Haghnejad was released following the same charges on 30th December 2021.

Although Iran recognises Christianity as a faith, many believers there face persecution and imprisonment for evangelising or worshipping together.

The majority of Persian-speaking churches in the country have been forcibly closed in recent years, while attending a house-church has become a criminal offence punishable by imprisonment.

The nine men were arrested after attending a house church in the northern city of Rasht.

Following an unsuccessful appeal of the nine men's sentences in 2020, the Iranian Supreme Court ordered a review on 24th November 2021 after ruling that involvement in house churches should not be considered a crime against national security and does not make Christians enemies of the state.

The review follows a campaign by a number of persecution charities fighting for freedom of religion or belief for Christians in Iran.

Middle Eastern Concern is calling on the Christian community to join them in praying for an acquittal following the review as well as the continued review of similar sentences in other cases.

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