The story comes from The Clarion Project.
Iran Sends Christian Convert to Prison for 10 Years
Persecution of Iranian Christian converts has been on the rise since 2012, with pastors and activists given lengthy prison sentences.
A Revolutionary Court in Tehran sentenced an Iranian Christian convert to ten years in prison. According to Mohabat News, Mohammad Hadi (Mostafa) Bordbar, who was been arrested on December 27, 2012, was sentenced in June to five years in prison for membership in a so-called "anti-security organization" and an additional five years for gathering with intent to commit crimes against Iranian national security.
The court said that Bordbar was involved in "Christian evangelical activities" and "Zionism," aimed at undermining the Islamic leadership of the country through establishing "evangelical ministries and organizations and holding underground worship meetings."
It cited Bordbar's baptism at the home of a pastor, his continued involvement in house churches in the capital Tehran and the areas of Gilan, Karaj and Esfahan as well as related evangelism work as further evidence that he violated the laws of this strict Islamic nation.
Bordbar and about 50 other Farsi-speaking Christian converts were in northern Tehran having a Christmas worship service when 15 plain-clothes security officers raided the house. Everyone was detained for hours. While most of them were released, Bordbar remained behind bars.
Bordbar had also been arrested in 2009 in Rasht for converting to Christianity, attending a house church and apostasy. He was released after posting bail of 200 million rials, however, the apostasy conviction remained on his criminal record.
Bordbar allegedly admitted having distributed 12,000 pieces of Christian literature and dubbing five movies related to Christian evangelism for Christian TV channels.
Iranian officials claimed to have discovered some 6,000 Christian books and compact discs at his home in Rasht. Bordbar confessed that he hid Gospels "for fear of them being burned by Islamic authorities," the court reportedly said.
Bordbar's lawyer Shima Ghousheh, a member of the Iranian Human Rights Commission, said she is working on an appeal.
Expressing her opposition to the ruling, Ghousheh said the two convictions (that resulted in a 10-year prison term) are actually the same, and that her client is being convicted twice for one charge. At the same time she was hopeful that the appeals court will overturn the guilty verdict.
After issuing the ruling, the Revolutionary Court announced that appeals to the decision may be submitted within 20 days of its issue.
The Iranian Constitution recognizes the rights of religious minorities, including Christians. However, the Iranian regime prosecutes those who convert to Christianity from Islam.
Persecution of Iranian Christian converts has been considerably on the rise since 2012. Many pastors and Christian activists have been arrested in recent years and given lengthy prison sentences. That occurs as the number of Christian converts is increasing, and the network of underground house churches is spreading fast.
News of the case comes shortly after Hasan Rouhani was sworn in as president in an open session of parliament following a weekend that saw him endorsed by Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran's supreme leader.
While pledging to defend minorities, including apparently Christians,"he would not be allowed to do that without the approval of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei," cautioned Firouz Khandjani, a key official of the evangelical Church or Iran movement.
It was not immediately clear what, if anything, Iran's new president will do to challenge the perceived controversial sentences.