Iran Releases Another Jailed Christian Convert

Monday, April 6, 2020

By Stefan J. Bos, Special Correspondent Worthy News

(Worthy News) - Iranian authorities have released another Christian convert from prison amid concerns the new coronavirus COVID-19 could spread in overcrowded jails, Christian activists said Monday. Amin Khaki, 38, learned from prison authorities Monday that he should not return to jail, confirmed well-informed advocacy group Middle East Concern (MEC). "It is expected that he will be able to reclaim the money put down as security," MEC told Worthy News.

Khaki's release came days after authorities officially released fellow Christian convert Rokhsareh (Mahrokh) Ghanbari. She was told that she didn't have to complete her one-year prison term for "propaganda against the system" of the strict Islamic republic. Iran's leadership prosecuted both converts after refusing to return to Islam and continuing Christian activities.

Khaki was detained with four other Christian converts when security agents raided their homes in the Iranian city of Rasht in December 2017, according to Christians familiar with the case. At a court hearing last year, he was sentenced to fourteen months' imprisonment for "propaganda against the regime and establishing house churches," MEC added. The other Christians received four months each for "propaganda against the regime," the group explained.

The four former Muslims detained with Amin were freed in October 2019 after completing their prison sentences, Christians said. Amin was reportedly released conditionally last month amid concerns about the COVID-19 outbreak after submitting a bond of 50 million tomans ($3,000), MEC explained.

But in a statement released by MEC, Iranian Christians urged prayers for believers who remain detained on political charges. Iranian Christians said they might face exposure to COVID-19 infection in prison. It was crucial, the Christians said, to pray that these detainees "will know God's protection and consolation and also be released." Christians said they were also praying that the released concerts Khaki and Ghanbary "will be able to reclaim the money put down as security once the courthouses re-open. They should also quickly recover from their imprisonment and return to "normal life."

MEC quoted local Christians as saying that they hope that "Iranian authorities will have wisdom in dealing with the COVID-19 crisis." They also should "refrain from targeting Christians and other persecuted religious communities." Iranian authorities deny wrongdoing saying they want to protect Islamic traditions. Mission groups suggest there are at least an estimated 360,000 devoted Christians in the country of over 82 million people. They reportedly include many former Muslims who turned to Christianity, seeking freedom from strict Islamic rules.