Iran: update #9 on pastor sentenced to death

Posted on 6th July 2012

 

 

Greetings in the name of Jesus, Prince of Peace

 

Iranian Christians thank us for our continued prayer for pastor Yousef Nadarkhani, who has been imprisoned since October 2009. In September 2010 the Revolutionary Tribunal of Gilan Province found him guilty of apostasy and sentenced him to death - a verdict upheld by the Supreme Court in July 2011.

 

It is understood that pastor Yousef was verbally informed on 4th July that he will face a new trial in September, on different charges. This has not been confirmed in writing, and Yousef has not been told of what any new charges would be. If new charges are brought, it is expected (based on the experience of most cases against Christians in Iran in recent months and years) that these would be non-specific political charges, such as “activities against the state” or against state security, rather than religious charges. Yousef has only limited legal support within Iran after a sentence given to his principal lawyer in July 2011 was upheld in April.

 

We regret to report that another believer, Farshid, has had a six-year jail sentence confirmed by an appeal court. Farshid was arrested on 26th December 2010 and formally convicted in April 2012. In a video released on YouTube in May, a prominent dissident who was held in the same cell as Farshid for some time gave positive testimony about Farshid’s attitude, conduct and service in prison, and the esteem in which he is held by fellow prisoners.

 

Other believers remain detained in Iran because of their Christian faith and activities. These include several arrested in raids on fellowships in late May (Hadi and Alireza in Neishabour, Vahid in Mashhad, Mehrdad in Tehran) and several arrested during similar raids in February (including a group of five in Shiraz and at least three in Kermanshah).

 

Iranian Christians rejoice that Yousef’s life has been spared thus far. They request our continued intercession that:

a.      Yousef’s death sentence will be revoked, his conviction overturned and any further charges against him dropped

b.      Yousef, his wife, Fatemeh, and their two sons will know the comfort, presence and hope of Jesus, and that the family will be reunited soon

c.       All believers in Iran facing trials because of their faith will know the Spirit’s guiding wisdom

d.      Farshid and other believers serving jail sentences will know the presence and peace of Jesus, remain strong in their faith and clear in their testimony and witness

e.      Christians throughout Iran will not be intimidated but will know the Lord’s enabling and guidance

f.        All officials involved will love mercy, act justly, learn about Jesus and choose to follow Him.

 

 

May be circulated to general mailing lists, outside organizations, and quoted from freely in reports citing "Middle East Concern" as the source of the information.

Latest Requests

  • Sudan: Update on Meriam and family, now in Italy

    Posted on 24th July 2014

     

    Greetings in the name of Jesus, the Prince of Peace.

     

    In recent months we have requested prayer for Meriam Yahia Ibrahim, a Sudanese believer from a Muslim background, who was sentenced to death on 15th May for apostasy but then released on 23rd June following a successful appeal. Recall that she was then re-arrested at the airport as she and her family were attempting to leave the country, and then released again on bail on 26th June.

     

    We are pleased to report that Meriam and her family have now left Sudan. They arrived in Rome at about 9.30am today (24th July) after the Italian government had negotiated her release with the Sudanese authorities. The family is expected to stay in Italy for a few days before continuing their journey to the US.

     

    Meriam's lawyers were not given prior notification of her departure. There remains a lack of clarity about the status of legal proceedings against Meriam in Sudan. It is not yet known whether the Attorney General has decided against filing charges for travelling on allegedly false documents. Nor is it yet known whether a court case brought by those claiming to be Meriam's relatives, to have her marriage cancelled, has been dropped.

     

    Sudanese Christians thank us for our prayers  and rejoice that Meriam, together with her husband Daniel and their young children Martin and Maya, are now in a place of safety. However, they are concerned about the possible repercussions for other Christians in Sudan.

     

    They request our continuing prayer that:
    a. Meriam, Daniel, Martin and Maya will know the comfort, healing and restoration of Jesus
    b. They will know the Father's provision and the Spirit's guidance at each stage of their journey
    c. Any outstanding court cases against Meriam will be dropped
    d. Christians across Sudan, and especially those from Muslim backgrounds, will know the Father's protection, the Son's peace and the Spirit's wisdom
    e. All officials involved will love mercy, act justly, learn about Jesus and choose to follow Him.

     

    May be circulated to general mailing lists, outside organisations, and quoted from freely in reports citing "Middle East Concern" as the source of the information.

     
  • Iraq: Update on the situation of Christians in Mosul

    Posted on 24th July 2014

     

    Greetings in the name of Jesus, the eternal Rock,

     

    Iraqi Christians request continued prayer, especially for the Christians of Mosul and surrounding areas, most of whom have now fled.

     

    Recall that the Islamic State (IS), now in control of the area, has acted violently towards and imposed stringent conditions on religious and ethnic minority communities. Most members of the Yazidi and Shi'ite Turkman and Shabak communities have reportedly fled from the area.

     

    IS demanded that Christians convert to Islam or agree to adhere to strict Islamic rules including payment of the jizya tax - or else face execution. When Christian leaders failed to attend a meeting on 17th July, an ultimatum was set, giving Christians until noon on 19th July to leave.

     

    More than 200 families are reported to have fled, leaving all their belongings behind, as demanded by the IS. Some were beaten or otherwise humiliated at checkpoints while fleeing, and many were stripped of their remaining possessions (including vehicles, money, jewellery, phones, ID documents and even food and medicines).

     

    A few Christians remain in Mosul, including some elderly or infirm who were not able to leave. In some cases Christians are being shielded by Muslim neighbours. There are credible reports that some have been compelled by the IS to convert to Islam by reciting the Islamic declaration of faith before a Shari'a court.

     

    On 20th July, IS militants overran the Syriac Orthodox monastery of Mar Behnam, 30 km south east of Mosul, violently expelling all residents. Within Mosul, the cross on the Cathedral of Mar Afram, the Archbishopric of the Syriac Orthodox church, has been removed. It was replaced on 22nd July with loudspeakers for broadcasting the call to prayer.

     

    Iraqi Christians request our continued prayer that:
    a. Christians in Iraq, and especially from the Mosul area, will know the peace of Jesus, the guidance of the Spirit and the protection of the Father
    b. Christians who stayed behind in Mosul would not suffer repressions or reprisals by the IS, or be threatened to change their beliefs.
    c. All the displaced will find places of sanctuary, and that humanitarian assistance will reach all who are in need.
    d. Peace will be restored and that those displaced, including Christians, would be able to return to their towns.
    e. A peaceful and permanent political solution would soon be found, enabling all Iraqis to live in safety and prosperity.

     

    May be circulated to general mailing lists, outside organisations, and quoted from freely in reports citing "Middle East Concern" as the source of the information.

     
  • Iraq: Update on the situation of Christians in Mosul

    Posted on 18th July 2014

     

    Greetings in the name of Jesus, the eternal Rock

     

    Christians in Iraq, especially from the city of Mosul, continue to face great difficulties. They have request renewed prayer for their country at this time of turmoil and hardship.

     

    Earlier this week the militant group in control of Mosul, the 'Islamic State' (IS, previously known as ISIS) summoned Christian leaders to a meeting on 17th July to notify them of Islamic rules to be applied to non-Muslims. Christian leaders did not attend this meeting. Consequently, it was announced that remaining Christians should leave the city or else face execution. They were ordered to leave all property behind. The ultimatum was initially set for noon today (18th July) but was then extended by 24 hours.

     

    It is believed that most Christian families have now fled from Mosul, many to areas of Northern Iraq under Kurdish control. Reports have suggested that some fleeing families were stopped at checkpoints by IS militants who confiscated belongings including money, jewellery and mobile phones.

     

    Earlier this week, the IS marked houses belonging to members of minority communities with the phrase "property of the Islamic State" including inhabited houses. Christian houses were marked with the letter 'N' for Nazarite.

     

    Iraqi Christians urge us to pray, asking that:
    a. Christians in Iraq, and especially from the Mosul area, will know the peace of Jesus, the guidance of the Spirit and the protection of the Father
    b. The displaced families will find sanctuary and that humanitarian assistance would reach all who are in need.
    c. Peace will be restored and that those displaced, including Christians, would be able to return to their towns.
    d. A peaceful and permanent political solution would soon be found, enabling all Iraqis to live in safety and prosperity.

     

    May be circulated to general mailing lists, outside organisations, and quoted from freely in reports citing "Middle East Concern" as the source of the information.

     
  • Iraq: Abducted nuns and orphans released unharmed

    Posted on 15 July 2014

     

    Greetings in the name of Jesus, the Good Shepherd

     

    As Christians in Iraq continue to request prayer for their country, they rejoice in good news concerning two nuns and three orphans in their care who were abducted in Mosul on 28th June by Islamic militants.

     

    The nuns and orphans were released on Monday 14th July. According to the Chaldean Patriarch, no ransom was paid for their release, all are in good physical health and they were treated well during their abduction.

     

    The two nuns had disappeared on 28th June close to the Chaldean Monastery of Maskenta in Mosul. The nuns live and work in an orphanage attached to the Monastery. They were accompanied by two girls and a young boy from the orphanage. It is widely assumed that they were held by militants from the extremist group ISIS that seized control of Mosul and surrounding areas in early June.

     

    Chaldean and other church leaders continue to express grave concern for the future of Iraq's Christian communities. Similarly, other non-Sunni communities in areas controlled by ISIS fear for their future. In recent days there have been reports of atrocities against Yazidi communities, the appropriation of land belonging to Christians and members of other minority communities, and the further removal of statues and religious symbols.

     

    Iraqi Christians are grateful for our prayers and give thanks for the safe release of the five Christians. They request continued prayer, asking that:
    a. The nuns and orphans will know the comfort, healing and peace of Jesus and the protection of the Father as they adjust to their new circumstances
    b. Iraqi Christians will know the guiding wisdom of the Spirit and the protection of the Father
    c. Violence will cease, peace will be restored, those displaced (including Christians) will be able to return to their homes, and the clear rule of law will be established equally for all throughout Iraq
    d. Those in authority locally, together with the international community, will ensure that humanitarian aid reaches all those in need.

     

    May be circulated to general mailing lists, outside organisations, and quoted from freely in reports citing "Middle East Concern" as the source of the information.

     
  • Iran: Update on house church members and leaders imprisoned for their faith in Christ

    Posted 8th July 2014

     

    Greetings in the name of Jesus, the Good Shepherd

     

    Iranian Christians have requested our prayers following developments in the long-standing cases of three house church members detained for their faith in Jesus.

     

    Mohammad Roghangir and Suroush Saraie were arrested on Saturday 5th July 2014 in Bandar Azali in northern Iran. It is believed that they have been taken to Shiraz prison in order to serve sentences handed down in July 2013.

     

    Recall that on 12th October 2012 seven believers were arrested in a raid on a prayer meeting in Shiraz. Mohammad and Suroush were among them. Although they were released from detention on 19th March 2013, they were then tried on 16th July 2013. Mohammad was sentenced to six years in prison and Suroush received two and half years. They remained at liberty pending an appeal which was subsequently rejected.

     

    The leader of an associated fellowship, Abdolreza Haghnejad (also known as Matthias), was also arrested on 5th July. Security officials raided his home in Rasht and confiscated Christian materials, including Bibles. He has yet to be charged.

     

    In May 2011 Abdolreza and a number of other believers were acquitted of charges that included propaganda against the state. Abdolreza was tried again on 8th April 2012 and the judge ruled, on the basis of the previous acquittal, that there was no case against him. On 22nd August 2013 there was a new Tribunal hearing in Rasht at which he faced charges of actions against national security.

     

    Even after release, former prisoners continue to experience hardship. In some cases those released prisoners have been pressurised by security officials to become informers. Many former prisoners suffer psychological trauma and some have struggles in areas of marriage and family relationships.

     

    Iranian Christians request our prayers that:
    a.  Mohammad and Suroush will experience the Lord's support during this time of imprisonment
    b.  Abdolreza and his family will know the Lord's presence and support
    c.  Those who have been released will be know his physical, emotional, psychological and spiritual healing, and experience his strength and enabling as they and their families adapt
    d.  All prisoners in Iran will be treated with respect and dignity, as beings created in the image of God
    e.  All officials involved will love mercy, act justly, learn about Jesus and choose to follow Him.

     

    May be circulated to general mailing lists, outside organisations, and quoted from freely in reports citing "Middle East Concern" as the source of the information.