By Stefan J. Bos, Worthy News Correspondent
(Worthy News) - Seven people who turned from Islam to Christianity have received prison terms, fines, or work restrictions in Iran for “propaganda against the state,” trial observers confirmed Wednesday.
The Christian converts, including three married couples, got their verdicts, at the Revolutionary Court in the south-western city of Bushehr, activists told Worthy News.
They were given 20 days to appeal, and intend to do so, Christians said. Four men – brothers Sam and Sasan Khosravi as well as Habib Heydari and Pooriya Peyma, received jail terms, Worthy News learned.
The brothers were sentenced to one-year imprisonment, followed by a two-year exile from Bushehr and a ban on working in their specialist profession – the hospitality sector, activists confirmed.
Habib also received a one-year prison term, but no exile or work restrictions, explained well-informed advocacy group Article18.
WOMEN RECEIVE FINES
“The three women – Fatemeh Talebi, and sisters Maryam and Marjan Falahi – were fined” up to $400, some four average monthly wages, activists said.
Maryam Falahi, a nurse, “was also given a lifetime ban on working for any national institution, including the hospital she’s worked at for 20 years,” Article18 added in a statement.
Wednesday’s confirmation of the June 21 verdicts came a year after Iranian agents reportedly raided their homes in a combined operation.
Security forces took personal items like laptops, phones, and anything related to Christianity, such as Bibles, literature, and crosses, according to Christians familiar with the situation.
“The judge even named some of the Christian literature that had been found at their properties, including copies of ‘Who is Jesus?’ and ‘Getting to Know the Bible’,” Article18 told Worthy News.
CRACKDOWN ON CHRISTIANITY
The seven Christians were first detained on July 1, 2019, alongside Sam and Sasan’s mother, Khatoon Fatolahzadeh. The mother, “who is in her sixties, was released later the same day,” the group explained.
The seven detained Christians were reportedly freed over two weeks later, after posting each posting bail of 300 million tomans each (around $30,000).
The sentencing is part of a broader government-led crackdown on Christianity in the strict Islamic nation, according to advocacy groups.
Despite the difficulties, there are at least hundreds of thousands of devoted Christians among Iran’s nearly 85 million people, missionaries say. They include many Christian converts who became disappointed with Islam’s strict religious system, Worthy News learned.
Iran’s government has denied wrongdoing and reportedly said that “no-one is put in prison in Iran...simply because of their beliefs.”
Friends of the sentenced Christian converts asked prayers that “God will strengthen and encourage” those prosecuted for their faith in Christ “despite the disappointment of the verdict,” reported rights group Middle East Concern (MEC).