Four Iranian converts to Christianity were sentenced earlier this month to several years in prison after they were arrested in February on accusations they acted “against national security” by participating in house church meetings and evangelizing.
According to Article 18, a London-based nonprofit that promotes religious freedom and tolerance for Christians in Iran, the four accused received sentences between two and five years for “spreading Zionist Christianity.”
Ramin Hassanpour was sentenced to five years, while Hadi Rahimi was sentenced to four years in prison. Sakine Behjati and Saeede Sajadpour both received two-year sentences.
All four are said to be members of the Church of Iran, a nontrinitarian denomination, in Rasht, the capital city of Gilan Province.
The four were charged in May. After being charged with the crimes, they spent about a week in Rasht’s Lakan Prison after they were unable to pay the $30,000 bail.
Bail was eventually lowered and they were released.
Human rights groups, including Christian Solidarity Worldwide, have called on the theocratic Iranian regime to release the four believers.
Authorities in the Islamic Republic of Iran have engaged in a systemic pattern of arresting and imprisoning Christian converts accused of participating in house church movements as well as other religious minorities.
“The sentencing of these [converts] marks the latest development in a relentless crackdown on specific religious groups in Iran,” CSW’s Chief Executive Mervyn Thomas said in a statement shared with media.
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SOURCE: Christian Post, Samuel Smith