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Christian Converts in Court on National Security Charges

August 4, 2021
OstanWire
2 min read
Four Christian converts appeared in court on August 3. Left to Right: Alireza Varak-Shah, Hojjat Lotfi Khalaf, Mohammad Ali (Davoud) Torabi, and Esmaeil Narimanpour
Four Christian converts appeared in court on August 3. Left to Right: Alireza Varak-Shah, Hojjat Lotfi Khalaf, Mohammad Ali (Davoud) Torabi, and Esmaeil Narimanpour

Four Christian converts have been charged with “propaganda against the regime” and “conspiracy and gathering against national security” after appearing in court on August 3. They were released on bail after being informed of their charges.

Alireza Varak-Shah, Mohammad Kayidgap, Esmaeil Narimanpour and Mohammad Ali (Davoud) Torabi were summoned along with four other Christian converts in the city of Dezful in Khuzestan on July 20. They were told to report to the prosecutor’s office of the Civil and Revolutionary Court of Dezful.

The four were arrested by intelligence ministry agents in Dezful on April 19 and released two days later after they signed statements pledging to appear when summoned.

For years, the Islamic Republic has prosecuted and imprisoned Christian converts on such charges without presenting any evidence.

Article 18, a group that supports the rights of Christian converts in Iran, published a detailed report about the arrests. In addition to the targeting of the four, between April 19 and April 22, more than 10 other converts were summoned to the Intelligence Bureau and forced to sign papers promising they would refrain from taking part in any Christian activity.

“Though Christianity is a recognized minority religion in Iran’s constitution, converts to Christianity are not recognized as Christians,” the Article 18 website explains. “They are therefore not permitted any of the rights afforded to Christians, such as worshipping in a building designated as a church or partaking in Christian rituals such as Holy Communion". In 2020, two Christian converts were flogged for doing the latter.

“Because they have no access to church buildings, converts instead meet together in their homes, known as ‘house-churches’, but these are routinely raided by intelligence agents and the attendees arrested on charges of membership to ‘hostile’ groups acting ‘against national security’.”

A number of the converts reported that they had been interrogated at a school and not an an official intelligence ministry building. They were told the unusual arrangement was a result of “shortage of rooms” and “the necessity of following coronavirus health protocols.”

Related Coverage:

Three Christian Converts Arrested in Khuzestan

Iranian Christian Priest: Converts Living a Half-Life in Iran

US Government Publishes Overview of Iran's Crimes Against Religious Minorities

Iran Goes After Christian Converts

Christian Convert with Parkinson's Disease and Wife Face Prison for Attending Church

Six Christians among 54,000 released from prison

40 Years of Discrimination Against Christians, Jewish People and Zoroastrians

Muslim Prison Inmates Support Jailed Christian Convert

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