Pastor Behnam Irani, an evangelical Christian leader from Iran who is already serving six years in prison, has reportedly been hit by 18 new charges, including one of "spreading corruption on Earth," which carries the death penalty.
Christian Solidarity Worldwide Chief Executive Mervyn Thomas told BosNewsLife the group is "deeply concerned by the new charges against Pastor Irani," especially the charge of "spreading corruption on Earth."
Thomas added that the charges made against Irani and other Christian leaders are "tantamount to an indictment of Christianity itself and mark a renewed escalation in Iran's campaign against Persian Christians under the Rouhani presidency." more >>
U.S. Pastor Saeed Abedini is reportedly receiving death threats from ISIS jihadists at the Iranian prison where he is being held.
The militants have said that they will kill him because of his Christian faith, the American Center for Law and Justice reported in a press release. Abedini, who is being held at Rajai Shahr prison, spoke of the death threats with family members earlier this week.
While the ISIS militants are apparently being held in a separate section of the prison ward, they have managed on several occasions to make their way to the pastor's section on their way back from the prison yard, forcing Abedini to hide. more >>
The plight of U.S.-Iranian Pastor Saeed Abedini was highlighted by Secretary of State John Kerry during his remarks for the State Department's 2013 Report on International Religious Freedom, with Kerry promising to continue to work for the pastor's release.
"In Iran, U.S. Iranian citizen Pastor Saeed Abedini remains imprisoned. The Iranian authorities sentenced him to eight years behind bars simply because of his religious beliefs. We will continue to call for his release and we will continue to work for it," Kerry stated.
"And make no mistake: We will continue to stand up for religious minority communities under assault and in danger around the world, from Jehovah's Witnesses to Baha'is to Ahmadi Muslims." more >>
Multiple media reports indicate that a Christian in Iran was reportedly sentenced by a judge to have his lips burned with a cigarette after he failed to fast during the month-long Muslim holiday of Ramadan.
Although Islamic rule states that the month-long fasting period of Ramadan only applies to Muslims, the Christian man was reportedly punished publicly in the city of Kermanshah this week. Along with the Christian man's punishment, five Muslim men were reportedly flogged with 70 lashes each for failing to obey the fasting rules of Ramadan, the city's deputy Governor Ali Ashraf Karami told The Daily Mail.
One group, the National Council of Resistance of Iran, has condemned the recent public punishments, arguing that they are examples of Iran's unfair justice system that often target non-Muslim citizens. more >>
A Christian pastor imprisoned for his faith, who had been missing for nearly three weeks and feared to have been executed without notice by Iranian authorities, has been returned to prison in Ghezal Hezar Prison in Karaj, Iran.
Present Truth Ministries, which has been campaigning for Pastor Behnam Irani's release, said on Wednesday that the pastor has been able to get back in touch with his family.
"He was unable to say where he had been taken or what they did to him," the group reported. more >>
Pastor Joel Hunter of Northland, A Church Distributed, who is President Barack Obama's spiritual adviser, has recently returned from a trip to Iran where he spoke with officials and called for the release of Pastor Saeed Abedini, an American citizen.
"One of our main goals in this trip was to create such a different environment which would include giving more leeway to different religions. Now that we have this connection, we were able to discuss these prisoners, specifically in regard to Pastor Saeed Abedini," Hunter said, according to BBC Persia, as translated by the American Center for Law and Justice.
"It was because of this dialogue that we were able to ask the Iranian government for clemency for him and we were able to bring this up with the right person and in the right environment. This opportunity was provided to us by the Iranians themselves and it did not happen because of any pressure from us." more >>