The disabled mother of an Iranian Christian prisoner has asked authorities to release her son, who is being held in Rajaei-Shahr prison for his faith, explaining that because she is visually impaired she has not even been able to visit him.
Mohabat News reported on Tuesday that the prisoner, Ebrahim Firouzi, is one of several people being held in Iran because of their Christian faith. Firouzi recently refused to attend his appeals court hearing because officials did not allow him to access his defense documents, though the hearing was postponed for another four months because the appointed judge was not present.
The National Council of Resistance of Iran notes that Firouzi was arrested in August 2013, and in 2015 he was sentenced to five years in prison on the charges of "acting against national security," which is often the charge handed down to prisoners of faith in Iran.
Firouzi's mother called on officials to handle her son's case fairly and to release him.
"Crying as she delivered the message to the authorities, Mr. Firouzi's elderly mother said that she is visually impaired and there is nothing she can do and has no one to help her. She said she doesn't have the ability to go from court to court and follow up on her son's case," Mohabat News reports.
"She added that she misses her son and because of her disability she has not been able to visit her son in prison. She pleaded with the authorities to release her son so he can come home."
Christians face heavy persecution in the Islamic Republic, including regular crackdowns and jail sentences due to their faith.
House churches are not permitted, and Christian converts have been beaten and arrested for gathering to worship on numerous occasions.
Back in May, the U.K.-based Christian Solidarity Worldwide reported that Pastor Yousef Nadarkhani, a house church leader from the Church of Iran, had been arrested once again, following his acquittal of apostasy in 2012, after being originally sentenced to death by hanging.
"We are deeply concerned by these developments and await further clarification regarding the reasons for these arrests," CSW's Chief Executive Mervyn Thomas said at the time, noting that the 37-year-old pastor's wife, Tina Pasandide Nadarkhani, and fellow church member Yasser Mosayebzadeh, had also been arrested.
"Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for Christians who have been arrested on account of their religious beliefs to be released and re-arrested time and again, in a tactic designed to foster a sense of insecurity within the community," Thomas added.
The Iran Human Rights Documentation Center database of prisoners reported that as of March 15, there were at least 821 individuals imprisoned in Iran for the exercise of fundamental rights, a number which includes Sunni Muslims, Baha'i, Christians, Sufis, Dervishes, and other religious minorities.