Four Christians in Iran will be spending a combined total of at least 25 years in jail because of their faith. CBN News reports that Pastor Victor Bet-Tamraz, his wife Shamiram Issavi, Amin Afshar Naderi and Hadi Asgari - former Muslims who converted to Christianity- have been sentenced to prison for going against the religious beliefs of the overwhelmingly Muslim country.
Speaking with the Christian website in the video below, Mike Ansari of Heart4Iran said these believers were charged with allegedly conducting “illegal church activities” and threatening national security with their propaganda. In his words:
“These Christians were solely arrested for practicing their Christian faith, including attending Christmas gatherings and organizing house churches. If they are imprisoned, they will be prisoners of conscience,” he added. “We ask you to continue to pray for the Iranian Christians that are highly persecuted.”
The first arrest was made in 2014 when security men in plain clothes raided the Pastor Bet-Tamraz’s home. This happened during a Christmas party. He was found guilty and sentenced to 10 years in prison, along with Asgari in 2017. An Iranian Revolutionary Court charged them with “forming a group composed of more than two people with the purpose of disrupting national security.” Naderi was later sentenced to five years in prison for allegedly insulting Islam by the same court.
The same thing happened in January 2018 when Branch 26 of the Revolutionary Court in Tehran sentenced the pastor’s wife, Issavi, to five years in prison for “membership of a group with the purpose of disrupting national security” and another five years in prison for “gathering and colluding to commit crimes against national security.”
All four of these Christians are currently free on bail. They await the verdict of their appeal launched by Amnesty International. The NGO has issued a statement calling calling on the Iranian government to “quash the convictions and sentences of Victor Bet-Tamraz, Shamiram Isavi, Amin Afshar-Naderi, and Hadi Asgari, as they have been targeted solely for the peaceful exercise of their rights to freedoms of religion and belief, expression, and association, through their Christian faith.”
Cases like these have made Iran the 10th-worst country in the world for Christians, according to Open Doors USA’s 2018 World Watch List. Iran has also been listed as a “country of particular” concern by the U.S. State Department for abusing the religious freedom of Christians and other religious groups.