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Arrested Iranian Church Leader’s 10-Year Prison Sentence Upheld

An appeal court in Iran upheld a decade-long prison sentence for a house-church leader. The Iranian government is imprisoning the Iranian-Armenian Christian solely for teaching Christianity, which the notorious appeal court judge in charge of his case referred to as “propaganda contrary to and disturbing to the holy religion of Islam.” The Christian leader originally received his 10-year prison sentence on April 11, along with a sentence of 10 subsequent years’ “deprivation of social rights.” This additional penalty, to be enforced after his release from jail, will restrict his possible employment.

Two members of the leader’s house-church, who are converts, received sentences alongside him on April 11. Fortunately, in the May 29 appeal ruling, the judge elected to overrule the converts’ sentences of 10-years “social deprivation” and to reduce their fines for possessing satellite receivers. On the same day that the appeal court released these verdicts, seven other Christians, arrested two years ago for meeting at a house-church, were also tried. Their sentences will be released within a month. All these cases attest to the unjust and dangerous reality facing persecuted Christians in Iran today.

Overall, though, Iran’s harsh governance has been extremely unpopular among its citizens in recent times. Crowds in several cities and towns have protested the rule of Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, chanting “Death to Khamenei.” In this environment, the nation’s Christian community is growing. One Christian in Iran working to spread the gospel told CBN News, “So many, many are calling us and wanting a new God, wanting to look to Jesus … the new hope. Where else can they go if their religion is disappointing them?” Inevitably, Iran’s strict regime will not release its controlling grasp lightly. Persecution against Christians, like the house-church leader sentenced last month, will certainly worsen. Christians will need to remain strong.

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