Iranian Christians request prayer as authorities are demanding exorbitant amounts for bail for the leader and members of a church group recently targeted by Iranian security.
Joseph Shahbazian, 56, an Iranian-Armenian church group leader, was arrested on 30 June. He has not yet been told what charges he faces. Human rights group Article Eighteen reports at least 35 Christians were arrested or interrogated as part of a coordinated operation in the cities of Tehran, Karaj and Malayer.
Joseph’s family says bail has been set at three billion tomans (US$150,000) – twice the previous highest bail for Christians. Joseph’s family have submitted title deeds for two properties, worth less than that. On 26 July a judge will decide whether to accept them.
According to Mohabat News, another of those arrested, Malihe Nazari, 46, also has been set bail of three billion tomans.
Three Christian converts, Farhad, Salar and Mina were released earlier this month, after paying bails of 800 million or one billion tomans (between US$40,000-50,000).
Christian convert Somayeh (Sonya) Sadegh and her mother, Masoumeh Ghasemi were both released on 9 July after submitting combined bail of 800 million tomans (US$40,000).
Iranian Christians request prayer for Joseph and Melihe, who are still detained, as well as for all the others arrested, interrogated and harassed as part of this security operation. Pray that:
- The judge will accept the title deeds and allow Joseph’s release
- Bail demands for Melihe will be significantly reduced and that she will also be released
- God will comfort, protect and strengthen the faith of the dozens of Christians caught up in the security operation
- The Iranian authorities will stop trying to prevent Christians from meeting for fellowship
- There will be no further attempts to financially ruin those arrested through excessive bail demands