Iranian Christians request prayer following a plea for religious freedom made by two Christian prisoners on furlough.
Behnam Akhlaghi and Babak Hosseinzadeh, converts from Rasht in North Iran, are presently serving five-year sentences in Evin Prison, Tehran, for “acting against national security through promoting Christian Zionism” on account of their peaceful participation in house churches.
In Iran, churches for ethnic Armenians and Assyrians are closed to Persian-speaking Christian converts. The only way for converts to gather for worship is in small home groups known as house churches. However, in violation of their rights, these informal gatherings are targeted by Iranian authorities. Those responsible for their organisation and propagation can receive prison sentences of up to 10 years.
Behnam (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i8f0hyxxvUg&t=64s) and Babak (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FpwewmbFeHE&t=2s) have released videos while both were recently on furlough. Behnam asks “if attending a house-church is considered a crime… or even if a church is open then it is limited to special individuals who can anyway only participate with restrictions. As a Christian who is told, “We respect you, your faith, and the path you have chosen,” my question is: in view of this respect, how and where should I perform my religious rites?”
Babak, thinking about the end of his prison sentence and future release asks: “Where am I to worship after these five years [in prison]?”
Iranian Christians request prayer that the desire of Persian-speaking Christian converts for a place to worship will be heard and that the international community will join the cry for Iran to allow converts to freely gather and practise their faith as is their right under national and international law.