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Iran Sentences Christian Converts to More Than 25 Years in Prison: Report

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Five converts to Christianity have been sentenced by the Iranian judiciary to a collective of more than 25 years in prison, according to a report from Iran International.

Hengaw, an organization reporting on human rights violations against Kurds in Iran, stated there has been no reason given for the charges against the five Christians.

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Hamid Afzali was sentenced to 10 years behind bars, followed by Nasrollah Mousavi, Bijan Gholizadeh, and Iman Salehi, each of whom were sentenced to five years, and Zohrab Shahbazi, who received a nine-month jail sentence, The Jerusalem Post reported.

In a statement to CBN News, Todd Nettleton, vice president of message for the Voice of the Martyrs, said, “The growth of the church in Iran is wonderful news for Christians around the world, and a great reminder of God’s ability to grow His church in spite of anything that any government might do to stop it.”

“But the high price our Iranian brothers and sisters are paying to follow Christ is a different kind of reminder: to pray often for them as they willingly suffer for the name of Christ,” he added.

The report from Hengaw noted that, while Christians are “acknowledged as a religious minority in Iran, authorities impose severe penalties, especially on those who convert from Islam to Christianity.”

Iran’s decision to imprison the five Christian converts violates article 18 of the United Nations’ International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which states, “Everyone shall have the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. This right shall include freedom to have or to adopt a religion or belief of his choice, and freedom, either individually or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in worship, observance, practice, and teaching.”

In addition to these five Christian arrests, Hengaw noted that another recent Christian convert in Iran, Yasin Mousavi, has been sentenced to 15 years in prison for charges including “membership in groups or associations aimed at disrupting security” and “propaganda against the government through promoting Christianity.”, which tracks Christian persecution around the globe, has placed Iran at No. 9 on its World Watch List and rates the persecution Christians face in the Muslim-ruled country as “extreme.”

“For Christians who convert from Islam, not even the veneer of tolerance is present. Conversion from Islam to Christianity is illegal in Iran, and anyone caught as a convert can be arrested and imprisoned,” the organization explained in part. “The government views conversion as an attempt by the West to undermine Islam and the Islamic government of Iran. This means that anyone who is discovered to be a member of a house church can be charged with a crime against national security, which can lead to long prison sentences.”

Please be in prayer for our brothers and sisters in Christ facing persecution in Iran.

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About The Author

Tré Goins-Phillips Headshot

Tré Goins-Phillips serves as a host and content creator for CBN News. He hosts the weekly “Faith vs. Culture” show and co-hosts “Quick Start,” a news podcast released every weekday morning. Born and raised in Virginia, Tré now lives along the Blue Ridge Mountains, where he has built his career, often traveling to meet and interview fascinating cultural influencers and entertainers. After working with brands like TheBlaze and Independent Journal Review, Tré began his career at CBN News in 2018 and has a particular passion for bridging the chasm between the secular world and the church