Iranian Christians request prayer for five Christian converts arrested in Rasht following raids on their homes.
On 8 May at about 10:30 p.m., security agents conducted simultaneous raids in Rasht on the homes of Behnam Akhlaghi, Babak Hosseinzadeh, Ahmad (Youhana) Sarparast, Ayoub (Farzin) Pour-Rezazadeh and Morteza Mashhoodkari. The agents confiscated Christian books and pamphlets, telephones, and computers. Four of the men were immediately arrested and have been taken to an unknown location. Morteza, who was not at home, was later summoned by telephone by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). On the advice of his lawyer, Morteza turned himself in the morning of 9 May.
All of the men are associated with the “Church of Iran” and have previously been subjected to criminal procedures on account of their faith and related activities.
Behnam and Babak were among nine converts each sentenced to five years in prison for “acting against national security” and “promoting Zionist Christianity”. They were acquitted by the Supreme Court in November 2021, by which time the nine converts had served a combined twenty years in prison. While in prison, Behnam and Babak released videos and issued statements as part of a campaign (#Place2Worship – see https://articleeighteen.com/place2worship/) calling on the Iranian authorities to recognise the right of Christian converts to worship freely and collectively in Iran.
Ayoub, Ahmad and Morteza were previously arrested at a prayer meeting on 5 September 2021. They were charged under Article 500 and each sentenced to five years in prison for “engaging in propaganda and education of deviant beliefs contrary to the holy Sharia” and “connections with foreign leaders” and were in the process of appealing their sentences.
Iranian Christians request prayer that:
- God will strengthen and encourage the men and their families and that it will soon be clear where they are being held
- The Holy Spirit will guide them in how they should answer their interrogators
- They will be released soon
- The Iranian authorities will stop the persecution of religious minorities peacefully living according to their faith and beliefs