Two Christian converts in Tehran have had their request for a retrial rejected after they were given custodial sentences for practising their faith.
Hadi Rahimi and Sakineh Behjati were summoned to begin their four- and two-year sentences on Wednesday after Branch 9 of the Supreme Court overturned their appeal. The pair were sentenced to prison by Branch 26 of Tehran Revolutionary Court in August 2020 on the official charge of “membership of groups seeking to disrupt the national security."
Unofficially the pair are likely to have been targeted because of attending a house church. This, however, was not mentioned in the indictment against them: a ruling issued by the Supreme Court last November affirmed that membership of a house church alone was not a threat to national security.
Rahimi and Behjati were first arrested some 24 months ago. Their case was cited in the US State Department’s 2020 report on the state of religious freedom in Iran, which also observed: “The law does not recognize individuals who convert to Christianity as Christian. They may not register and are not entitled to the same rights as recognized members of Christian communities.”