Iranian Christians request prayer for converts Amin Khaki, Milad Goodarzi and Alireza Nourmohammadi who have been charged with “propaganda that educates in a deviant way contrary to the holy religion of Islam.”
On 5 May, summons were issued to Amin, Milad and Alireza, charging them under Article 500, recently amended with provisions that include heavy punishments (two to five years in prison) for anyone who commits “any deviant educational or proselytising activity that contradicts or interferes with the sacred law of Islam.”
Amin, Milad and Alireza were each released on bail of 250 million tomans and told they must report weekly to the intelligence branch of Iran’s police force for the next six months. Other Christians whose homes had been raided in November have also been threatened with imprisonment and other possible punishments, such as employment restrictions.
In that raid on 11 November 2020 on the homes of converts in Fardis (near Karaj), intelligence agents confiscated Bibles, cell phones and computers. No-one was arrested.
Harassment continued in January and February when the Christians were threatened with long prison sentences and told it would be better if they fled the country. Asked to provide commitments refraining from Christian activities, they all refused to comply.
When provisions to Articles 499 and 500 were first proposed in 2020, it was feared the legislation could be used to further restrict the freedoms of religious minorities and criminalise their activities, including those online.
Article 19, an organisation promoting freedom of expression and freedom of information, warned “that while the new provisions impose a threat to anyone who refuses to subscribe to state-sanctioned beliefs and ideologies, they will disproportionately impact individuals belonging to religious and faith-based minorities and ethnic groups.”
The legislation was passed by parliament on 13 January, approved by the Guardian Council on 3 February and signed by President Rouhani on 18 February to become effective from 5 March.
Prayer is requested that:
- God will encourage and strengthen Amin, Milad, Alireza, their families and the other Christians affected by this campaign of intimidation.
- The men will be well represented in court and that they will not be convicted of any crime.
- The Iranian authorities will stop their persecution of citizens who want to believe and follow ideologies that do not conform to the state propaganda.