An Iranian court has sentenced 12 Christians to one year in prison for holding worship meetings and evangelizing — crimes that Iran considers to be “propaganda activities.”
The Iranian Christian news agency Mohabat News reports that a Christian convert known as Payam Kharaman and 11 other Christians who were arrested in Bushehr in April 2015 were sentenced for the crime of promoting what the Iranian authorities call Zionist propaganda that goes against the Islamic Republic’s Shia Muslim-controlled system.
Kharaman told the news outlet that he and the others were accused of the crimes because they held house worship meetings, evangelized and invited others to accept Christ as their Savior. Additionally, the Christians were charged with “inclination to the land of Christianity.”
The verdict was handed down by the Islamic Revolutionary Court of Bushehr headed by Judge Abbas Asgari. Two others who were sentenced along with Kharaman were Shapour Jozi, Parastoo Zariftash.
Although Mohabat first reported the verdict earlier this month, the sentence was handed down in late June.
Kharaman explained that the state pressure against him began as early as 2012 when he was repeatedly summoned by the Office of Police Monitory Public Place in Bushehr. Kharaman said that he was interrogated about his evangelism and communications outside the country. Kharaman stated that interrogators wanted a confession that he was speaking abroad to Americans, Britains or Israelis.
“I always insisted on the belief in Christianity for myself and not for promotion of Christianity,” Kharaman was quoted as saying. “Because I had a boutique shop in Bushehr, a number of officers’ family members in the office knew me and informed of heavy sentences against me, and the case which was under investigation by intelligence office. I thought it was just an empty threat, but unfortunately became a serious issue one or two years later.”
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SOURCE: Christian Post, Samuel Smith