Egypt: two young boys convicted

Posted on 26th February 2013

 

 

Greetings in the name of Jesus, the Good Shepherd

 

Egyptian Christians have requested our prayers concerning a legal case involving two young boys in Ezbat Marko who were accused of defacing pages of the Qur’an in September 2012.

 

Recall that in October 2012, after a meeting involving local Christians and an international outcry, President Morsi announced a pardon for the boys. The boys, both under nine years old and illiterate, claimed that they found pages of the Qur’an amongst rubbish and were unaware what they had found and were playing with.

 

However, it emerged in January that the case was being continued under Article 160 of the penal code which criminalises damage to or violation of religious “buildings, symbols or other objects.”

 

During a hearing on 28th January the prosecution presented conflicting evidence. Despite this, on 4th February the court ruled that they be returned to their parents, without an acquittal. Legally, this means they are considered guilty but are too young to face punishment. The families appealed on the grounds that there was no basis for the charges. Regrettably, an appeal court has ruled that there are no grounds for an appeal, effectively confirming the conviction.

 

There is no further news concerning Bishoy, Makrem and Gamal, three Christians convicted under blasphemy laws during 2012. Recall that they deny any such offensive behaviour, and refute the evidence brought against them. However, appeals against their convictions were rejected and they continue to serve their sentences.

 

Christians supporting these families request our prayers that:

a.      The two boys and their family will know the healing touch of Jesus following this ordeal

b.      Christians and Muslims in Ezbet Marko will live with mutual respect and understanding

c.       All those unjustly convicted of blasphemy will know the peace and presence of Jesus

d.      Laws and practice will be changed to grant all Egyptians greater freedom of expression, and that the law will be applied equally to all citizens

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 organizations, and quoted from freely in reports citing “Middle East Concern” as the source of the information.

 

Latest Requests

  • Iran: Update on house church members imprisoned for their faith

    Posted on 17th November 2014

     

    Greetings in the name of Jesus, the Good Shepherd

     

    Iranian Christians thank us for our ongoing prayers for believers in prison in their country. They rejoice that Homayoun Shokouhi was granted conditional release on 10th November but request prayer for Masoud Rezai who was summoned on 9th November to serve a five-year sentence.

     

    Recall that Homayoun, his wife Fariba and son Nima were among seven believers arrested in Shiraz on 8th February 2012 when their fellowship meeting was raided. An associate was also arrested at the same time in his home. In June 2012 the eight were found guilty of "attending a house-church, spreading Christianity, having contact with foreign ministries, propaganda against the regime and disrupting national security." Homayoun and three others were sentenced to 3 years and 8 months' imprisonment. One of these others, Mohammad-Reza, was released conditionally on 18th May 2014.

     

    Following an application of his family to the Shiraz court, Homayoun, was released conditionally on Monday 10th November 2014 after serving two years and eight months of his sentence in Adel-Abad prison. Those who remain detained are Mojtaba and Vahid.

     

    Recall that in a separate incident, nine members of the 'Church of Iran' were arrested in Shiraz in October 2012 when their prayer meeting was raided. One detainee was released shortly afterwards; the others were formally convicted and given sentences ranging from one year to six years' imprisonment (though one's conviction was subsequently dropped). An appeal was rejected on 29th March 2014 and subsequently four of those convicted - Shahin, Mohammad, Suroush and Mehdi - began serving their sentences.

     

    On 9th November Masoud was called to Adel Abad prison, Shiraz, to serve his sentence of five years. The two others, Eskander and Bijan, expect to be summoned soon to serve their sentences.

     

    Iranian Christians give thanks for Homayoun's release. They request our prayers that:
    a.  Homayoun will know physical, emotional, psychological and spiritual healing, and experience strength and enabling as he and his family come together
    a.  Masoud and all other believers imprisoned in Shiraz will know the Lord's presence, comfort and strength, and that they will be released soon
    b.  Eskandar and Bijan will know the Lord's presence and support as they wait to be summoned to serve their prison sentences
    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.

     
  • Iran: Harsh sentences given to church leaders

    Posted on 20th Oct 2014

     

    Greetings in the name of Jesus, our rock and saviour

     

    On 7th October we requested prayer for imprisoned believers in Iran who were awaiting sentences. Those sentences have now been handed down.

     

    Recall that three members of the "Church of Iran" movement, Behnam Irani, Abdolreza Haghnejad and Reza Rabbani had been charged with "spreading corruption on Earth," a charge that can carry the death sentence. However, these charges were later dropped. They have instead been tried for "action against national security" and "creating a network to overthrow the System."

     

    The judge has sentenced each of them to 6 years imprisonment which will be served in exile in remote regions of Iran. Abdolreza and Reza are due to be sent to Minab prison in the south of Iran, whereas Behnam Irani is expected to be relocated soon to Zabol on the border with Afghanistan. Both of these locations will make visiting difficult for family and friends.

     

    Behnam Irani was arrested in a raid on a house church in Karaj on 14th April 2010. He was released on bail but then sentenced in January 2011 for one year, to which a previous 5-year suspended sentence was added. He began serving his sentence on 31st May 2011. With the recent additional sentence of six years, Behnam is expected to serve a total of twelve years in prison and therefore is due for release in 2023.

     

    Iranian Christians are grateful that the charges of spreading corruption on Earth against Behnam, Abdolreza and Reza were dropped, but they request our continued prayers that:
    a)  After receiving these harsh sentences, Behnam, Abdolreza and Reza will know the Lord's presence, comfort and support
    b)  Families of prisoners will know God's grace, strengthening and support and have opportunities to visit them in prison despite the exile imposed
    c)   All prisoners in Iran will be treated with respect and dignity as beings created in the image of God, and that those in prison on account of their faith in Jesus will be released
    d)  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.

     
  • Iran: Update on arrests and charges against Christians

    Posted on 7th October 2014

     

    Iranian Christians rejoice in answered prayer concerning a number of imprisoned believers and request our renewed prayers following further arrests of house church members.

     

    Recall that on 1st and 2nd September several believers from Muslim backgrounds were arrested in Isfahan. We are pleased to report that Moluk Ruhani, Hamidreza Borhani and his wife Zainab Akbari were released at the end of September, though the terms of their release are not yet clear. However, Mohammad Taslimi and Parsa Dadkhah remain detained in Dastgerd prison. Moluk Ruhani's sister, Sepideh Morshedi, was also arrested, but her present whereabouts are unknown.

     

    On August 12th security officers arrested two believers at a house church in Tehran. They were held in Ghezal Hesar prison, Karaj, but have since been released on bail.

     

    Recall too that three members of the "Church of Iran" movement, Behnam Irani, Abdolreza Haghnejad and Reza Rabbani had been charged with "spreading corruption on Earth," a charge that can carry the death sentence. However, these charges have been dropped. They are now being tried for "action against national security" and "creating a network to overthrow the System." The judge is expected to deliver a verdict soon.

     

    On 27th September security officers raided the house of Shahram Ghaedi in Isfahan. They arrested him and two other believers, Heshmat Shafiei, and Emad Haghi. They are currently , detained in Dastgerd prison. Shahram Ghaedi, who was also arrested in 2012, is well-known as the actor who portrayed Jesus in the Iranian version of the Jesus Film.

     

    Recall that 26th September was the second anniversary of Pastor Saeed Abedini's imprisonment in Iran. It is claimed that prayer vigils to mark this occasion were held in over 500 different locations in 33 countries.

     

    Iranian Christians are grateful for the support of so many in prayer and rejoice that some believers in Isfahan and Tehran have been released and that the more severe charges against Abdolreza, Behnam and Reza have been dropped.

     

    They request our continued prayers that:
    a)  All those recently arrested on account of the faith in the Lord Jesus Christ will know the Lord's presence and support
    b)  Families of prisoners will know God's grace, strengthening and support
    c)   All prisoners in Iran will be treated with respect and dignity as beings created in the image of God, and that those in prison on account of their faith in Jesus will be released
    d)  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

     
  • Yemen: Update on foreigners abducted and killed

    Posted on 30th September 2014

     

    Greetings in the name of Jesus, who came that all may have eternal life.

     

    In recent years we have requested prayer following the kidnapping on 12th June 2009 of nine foreigners in Saada, north-west Yemen. Three were murdered shortly after their abduction.

     

    Recall that Lydia and Anna, two young German girls, were freed in May 2010 and are now living with relatives in Germany. For many months there was no news of Johannes and Sabine (their parents), Simon (their infant brother) or of Tony (a British man).

     

    We regret to report that, in recent days, the German Ministry for Foreign Affairs has advised that reliable intelligence confirms that Johannes, Sabine and Simon are no longer alive. The situation of Tony remains unclear.

     

    Those supporting these families request our continued intercession. They ask us to pray that:
    a.  Lydia and Anna, together with other family members and colleagues, will know the deep comfort and peace of the Lord Jesus at this time of grieving
    b.  Information about Tony will be forthcoming soon, and that, if still alive, he will know the Lord's presence and strength and be released soon
    c.  Tony's wife and other family members and colleagues will know the strength, comfort and hope of Jesus amidst continuing uncertainty
    d.  Peace will be restored in Yemen, and godly leadership established which respects all ethnic, tribal and religious groups
    e.  The perpetrators will be convicted by the Spirit and drawn to the forgiveness, love and true life offered by Jesus.

     

    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.

     
  • Iran: Continuing Arrests and Harsh Sentences for Christians

    Posted on 16th September 2014

     

    Greetings in the name of Jesus, Prince of Peace

     

    Iranian Christians have requested our prayers following the recent arrests of house church members and further extraordinary charges filed against church leaders.

     

    On 1st and 2nd September five Christians were arrested in Esfahan. Bibles, computers and mobile phones were confiscated and Mohammad Taslimi, Hamidreza Borhani and his wife Zainab Akbari, Moluk Ruhani and her sister, Sepideh Morshedi, were arrested and taken to Dastgerd prison, Esfahan. They have yet to be charged.

     

    Prior to this on August 12th Iranian security authorities arrested two Christian men at a house church in Tehran. They are being held in Ghezal Hesar prison, Karaj. The owner of the house was unable to return for several weeks as his house was being watched.

     

    A worrying development is the serious charges being levelled against church leaders. Recall that on 3rd August a leader within the "Church of Iran" denomination, Abdolreza (Matthias) Haghnejad, was charged with "Moharebeh"- enmity against God - a crime that can carry the death sentence. He has since been charged with "Mofsed-e-filarz" - generally translated as "spreading corruption on Earth". This charge also carries the death sentence.

     

    Two other members of the "Church of Iran" movement are reported to have recently been charged with "Mofsed -e-filarz" as well: Behnam Irani, serving a six year sentence for "action against the state and against order", has received an additional 18 other charges including "mofsed -e-filarz" and Reza (Silas) Rabbani, who was arrested on 5th May 2014 and has suffered much physical abuse at the hands of security agents has also recently been charged with "mofsed -e-filarz".

     

    The charge of "Mosfed-e-filarz" has been applied to a wide range of expressions of political or religious dissent and carries the death sentence. Since the Iranian Revolution of 1979, possibly more than 8,000 people have been executed under this charge ranging from former members of the Shah's government, leaders of opposition or terrorist groups, to opponents of the regime and some Baha'i leaders.

     

    The 26th September, 2014, will mark the second anniversary of Christian Pastor Saeed Abedini's imprisonment in Iran. Saeed was sentenced to 8 years imprisonment for "anti-state activities" due to his work with house fellowships. Saeed's wife, Nagmeh, has organised a prayer vigil for 26th September to pray for Saeed and the persecuted church. A current list of vigil locations can be found at this web site http://beheardproject.com/prayer-vigil/saeed.

     

    Iranian Christians request our prayers that:
    a)  The charges of  "Mosfed-e-filarz"- spreading corruption in the Earth - against Abdolreza, Behnam and Reza would be overturned
    b)  All those recently arrested on account of the faith in the Lord Jesus Christ will know the Lord's presence and support
    c)  Families of prisoners will know God's grace, strengthening and support
    d)   All prisoners in Iran will be treated with respect and dignity, as beings created in the image of God and that those in prison on account of their faith in Jesus will be released.
    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.