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Iranian Christians receive prison sentence for sectarian activities

Public preaching or personal witness of the Gospel is the great commission given to all Christians regardless of geographical location yet most Christians in Iran cannot speak openly about their Christian faith. Iranian Christians have to keep quiet about the truth of the salvation in the name of Jesus Christ that they know because the government makes it so.

This is what is happening to many Christians in Iran. The latest is that three Christians from the Church of Iran denomination have each been sentenced to five years in prison and fined $95. They were sentenced by the Revolutionary Court in Karaj, north of Iran after being convicted of what authorities described as “engaging in propaganda against the Islamic regime.” This following short story tells you how  Christians live in Iran.

During the trial three Christians on trial were charged with “sectarian activities” under a new amendment to the Iranian penal code. Iran’s new amendment states that “any deviant education or propaganda that contradicts or interferes with the sacred Islamic laws, will be severely punished.” Prior to the new amendment, Christian converts living in Iran have traditionally been charged with “action against state security” which stems from French law, and Iranian judges have used this in the past to crack down on people who convert to Christianity.

The new amendment that came into full force in February targets groups labelled by the authorities as “wrong cults”. It is this term that is often used by the regime to undermine and persecute groups and movements that have deviated or separated from the official school of thought and judiciary in Iran.
It would appear that the Iranian authorities have extended the use of this term to include Evangelical and reform movements, as well as conversion from Islam to Christianity.

The amendment allows a range of punishments, including imprisonment for two to five years like the recent case indicates, the loss of voting rights for up to 15 years and heavy fines. All these violations of religious freedoms under the guise of a judiciary system were well documented by the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom which passed its recommendations to the US department of State.

Hilary Panashe.

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