Member of Anglican Church in Iran imprisoned for being hostile to the regime

Tuesday, August 4, 2020

by Karen Faulkner, Worthy News Correspondent

(Worthy News) - A Christian convert in Iran has won an appeal against conviction for “insulting the sacred beliefs of Muslims,” but lost his appeal against two charges of inciting “propaganda against the state” and for “membership of a [“Zionist” evangelical] group hostile to the regime” respectively, the Christian Post reports. Ismaeil Maghrebinejad was arrested in January 2019 and sentenced by a civil court in January 2020 to a total of six years imprisonment on the original three charges.

The London-based Iranian watchdog Article 18 says Maghrebinejad is a member of the Anglican Church, which was described in the indictment as a group that is hostile to the regime. Commenting on this description in a statement, Article 18 spokesperson Mansour Borji said: “such blanket labeling is inaccurately applied to any Christian arrested for their religious activities, as the revolutionary courts try to justify their violations of religious freedom.”

Moreover, Article 18 reports that a court document identified a “hostile” group in this context is one that holds to “evangelical Zionist” Christian views. Indeed, following an initial trial, Judge Seyed Mahmood Sadati called for a retrial in May in order to give Maghrebinejad a longer sentence for this charge. Article 18 reported the harsher sentence was given because Maghrebinejad agreed that a Scripture verse from the book of Philippians had been sent to his mobile phone by a satellite TV channel. 

In an interview with Article 18, Maghrebinejad’s daughter Mahsa, who lives in the US, said: “I have never seen [my father] do anything against the regime. He always respected people of other faiths, always respected the law.” Mahsa Maghrebinejad said she had expected her father to be acquitted and that his continued imprisonment is an additional hardship because he is the sole caretaker of her sick brother.

It is illegal for a Muslim to convert to Christianity in Iran. The Open Doors USA persecution watchdog currently ranks Iran as the ninth-worst country in the world for Christian persecution.