Christian Prisoner Given Conditional Release in Iran

By James.B


Christian convert and house-church leader Rasoul Abdollahi has been released from prison after serving 15 months of his three-year sentence. His release, however, was granted on the condition that he sign an agreement not to participate in any Christian activities or attend Christian worship services.


Originally sentenced in December 2013 for "collusion against the Iranian government" and "evangelism", Rasoul Abdollahi was held in Tehran's notoriously violent Evin prison until October 2014 when he, along with seven other prisoners of conscience were illegally transferred to Rajaei-Shahr prison in Karaj, according to Mohabat News.

Mr Abdollahi was arrested on 26 December 2010 along with several other Christian converts, including Pastor Farshid Fathi, who is still being held in Rajaei-Shahr prison. Converting from Islam to Christianity at the age of 17, Farshid Fathi went on to become a pastor and lead a group of house churches in Iran. He was illegally held until his trial in January 2012 when he was given a six year prison sentence.

Pastor Fathi was beaten while in prison, suffering a fractured foot and toe in April 2014. On 29 December last year, his sentence was extended by another year after he was falsely accused of having an alcoholic beverage in his possession.

Despite the fact that Iran's Supreme Leader, Seyyed Ali Khamenei, claimed recently in a meeting at the Iranian parliament (majlis) building with members of various religious minorities that, "after the victory of the Islamic Revolution in 1979, there is no record of aggression by Muslims against non-Muslims", there is persistent and widespread discrimination, harassment and persecution of Christians, especially converts from Islam, one of whom was executed. Other prominent Christians have been mysteriously murdered. House church leaders are routinely summoned before the authorities, harassed and often imprisoned or beaten. The UN Special Rapporteur for Iran says that at least 50 Christians are currently being held for their faith. Christians are often given extremely high bail payments for release.The use of Christian literature is highly restricted and churches which provide services in Farsi (the language of Iran's Muslim majority) are increasingly being shut down.

originally posted at Barnabas Fund
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