Posted 18th September 2013


Greetings in the name of Jesus, the Good Shepherd


Iranian Christians request renewed prayer for their country following a series of arrests in July and August. It is understood that at least 20 Christians, most believers from Muslim backgrounds (BMBs), have been arrested and detained during this period in several cities including Tehran, Karaj, Isfahan and Tabriz.


Among those arrested was Ebrahim, for whom we requested prayer in July as he awaited a decision following a court hearing on 6th July in Robat Karim. On 21st August Ebrahim was arrested once again together with two other believers, Masoud (a BMB) and Sevada (an Armenian Christian), during a raid by security officers at Masoud’s place of work. They remain detained.


President Hassan Rouhani, who took office on 3rd August following his election in June, pledged during his election campaign to improve Iran’s human rights situation. He spoke of establishing a ‘civil rights charter’ to ensure equality for all citizens without discrimination based on race, religion or gender. Christian leaders were among those who welcomed this pledge, though have noted that the President’s powers are limited. In particular, he does not have direct control of the Ministry of Intelligence and the Judiciary, the main perpetrators of many of Iran’s human rights abuses.


Pastor Saeed, a dual Iranian-US citizen imprisoned in Tehran since 26th September 2012, appealed this month to President Rouhani to uphold his pledge. Recall that Saeed’s conviction and eight-year sentence were upheld by the Tehran Court of Appeals on 25th August.


Iranian Christians request our prayers that:

a.      Those detained because of their Christian faith and activities will know the presence and peace of Jesus each day

b.      Those who face ongoing legal proceedings will know the Spirit's guiding wisdom, that charges will be dropped or that these believers will be acquitted, and that bail payments will be returned

c.       All Christians in Iran will know the protection of the Father, comfort of the Son and the guidance of the Holy Spirit

d.      Church and fellowship group leaders will know the Spirit's discernment and wisdom

e.      President Rouhani and all in authority will love mercy, act justly, learn about Jesus and choose to follow Him.


Open sources used: Mohabat News, Elam Ministries, ACLJ


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.


Latest Requests

  • Iran: Christian prisoner in urgent need of medical care

    Posted on 30th May


    Family and friends of Maryam (Naseem) Naghash Zargaran, a believer from a Muslim background who has been held for nearly three years in Evin Prison, Tehran, are greatly concerned about her present situation and request prayer for her treatment and release from prison.


    On Thursday 27th May, Maryam went on hunger strike as a protest against the lack of adequate medical treatment for long-standing health problems. She has refused solids and liquids and has not allowed prison medical staff to give her serum. Sources close to the family say that her condition is serious and that Maryam is close to becoming comatose.


    Maryam has a history of heart problems. In addition, she has recently been suffering from pain in her ears and severe headaches. She has lost a lot of weight and continues to suffer from depression. Although the medical authorities in the prison recognise the severity of her condition and the need for treatment, the prosecutor’s office has refused to allow Maryam to leave prison to receive adequate care. The only concession was in October 2015, when she was allowed to go to a hospital for a few days, but forced to return to prison without receiving full treatment.


    It has been reported that fellow prisoners in the prison ward have shown their support for Maryam by forgoing family visits yesterday (29th May) as a form of protest.


    Maryam was arrested in January 2013 in connection with her work on an orphanage with former Christian prisoner Saeed Abedini. She was charged with "acting against national security" and was sentenced to four years imprisonment, which she started serving on 15th July 2013 in the women's ward of Evin prison. A request for a retrial was refused.


    Family and friends of Maryam request prayer that:

    a. The Prosecutor will relent and allow Maryam to go to hospital to receive proper treatment

    b. The Lord will sustain Maryam and her family and friends during this critical time

    c. Maryam will be released from prison soon

    d. God will heal and restore Maryam

    e. God will move the Iranian authorities and officials to love mercy and act justly


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


  • Sudan: pastor re-arrested

    Posted on 26th May

    On 18th January Middle East Concern reported the release of Pastor Kuwa Shamal of the Sudan Church of Christ. He was detained on 18th December and held for three days. After his release he was required to report to the security service (the NISS) on a daily basis until mid-January. After a reprieve of one month he was again told to report regularly to the NISS offices.

    Pastor Kuwa was re-arrested by the NISS on Tuesday 24th May . His case will be dealt with by the prosecutor together with a case against Pastor Hassan Abduraheem Taour and Abdulmonem Abdumawla Issa Abdumawla (a believer from a Muslim background from the Darfur area). The latter two are expected to face serious charges including espionage and undermining state security.

    Pastor Kuwa is one of several pastors from Sudan who had passports and communications devices confiscated by the NISS and were asked to report regularly to the NISS offices. They are being pressured to testify against the others who are due to be on trial. No date has been set for the trial, but it is expected to take place in the near future.

    Since July 2015 Middle East Concern has issued several prayer requests for the Evangelical Church in the Bahri area of Khartoum. Part of the land on which the church and its facilities are located was illegally sold to an investor by a committee instituted by the government. Subsequently part of the compound was demolished by court order. On Monday 23rd May the authorities informed the church that they planned to demolish further parts of the compound. However, a lawyer has obtained a court order to suspend demolition work until the appeals court has ruled in a case on the legality of the committee that sold the land.

    Sudanese Christians ask for prayer:
    a. that the detained church leaders will know the Lord's strength, comfort and wisdom during their ordeal
    b. for a fair judicial process, and that the charges against them will be dropped
    c. that other church leaders will know the Lord's peace in the face of the increasing pressure against them, and that intimidation and harassment of Christians will cease
    d. that all officials involved will love mercy, act justly, learn about Jesus and choose to follow Him

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


  • Iran: three Christians detained in Rasht

    Posted on 17th May

    Iranian Christians request prayer for three Christians belonging to the self-styled “Church of Iran” network who were arrested on 13th May and remain in detention in Rasht.

    On 13th May security agents raided the home of Yousef Nadarkhani, a church leader who attracted international attention after he was charged with apostasy and sentenced to death in 2010. He was finally acquitted of apostasy charges, but sentenced to three years’ imprisonment for evangelising. He was eventually released on 7th December 2013.
    Yousef and his wife Tina were arrested along with Yasser Mossayebzadeh. Yousef and Tina were released later that day, but Yasser remains in detention.
    Related to these arrests, Saheb Fadaie and Mohammedreza Omidi were summoned to report to the security offices. Their homes were then raided and phones, computers and Christian literature were confiscated. Saheb and Mohammedreza were then detained and are thought to be held in Lakan prison near Rasht.
    Yasser, Saheb and Mohammedreza were all previously arrested in similar raids in February 2015. Mohammedreza was also one of four Christian converts sentenced in 2013 to receive 80 lashes for drinking communion wine and possessing a satellite receiver and dish.
    It is reported that the three detained men have been offered bail equivalent to US$3,000 each.
    These arrests are part of a larger systematic action on the part of Iranian authorities to harass Christian communities and put pressure on active Christians to leave Iran.

    Those close to Yasser, Saheb and Mohammedreza request prayer that:
    a. they will be released soon, and God will bring peace and comfort to them and their families
    b. no charges will be brought against the three men, and there will be no further action against Yousef and Tina
    c. God will strengthen and encourage faithful Christians in Iran to withstand the pressure to leave
    d. all officials involved will love mercy, act justly, learn about Jesus and choose to follow Him

    Open sources used: Christian Solidarity Worldwide

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

  • Algeria: church ordered to close

    Posted on 4th May

    Algerian Christians request prayer for a church in the south of Tizi Ouzou province which has been ordered to close.

    On 24th April the church leaders received a letter from the district authorities requiring the church to cease all religious activities on the grounds that they are in breach of a 2006 decree which regulates non-Muslim worship. This is the second time a church in this province has been ordered to close in the last two months.

    The letter cited a breach of section 5 of the decree, which states that use of a non-Muslim place of worship is subject to prior authorisation by the National Commission for Non-Muslim Religious Groups (overseen by the Ministry of Religious Affairs). The letter also claimed that the lease for the church building, rented on behalf of the Protestant Church of Algeria (L'Église Protestante d'Algérie / EPA), is not valid because the building is registered as residential premises. The letter ordered the church leaders to ensure that the building is used for residential purposes only.

    Because the National Commission does not actually meet and so never gives permission for buildings to be used as churches, most churches affiliated to the EPA rent buildings and inform local authorities that the buildings will be used as places of worship. One month before they received this closure order, the leaders of this particular church had informed local authorities that they intended to use the building they had rented as a place of worship. EPA leaders say that the closure order limits freedom of worship which is guaranteed in the Algerian constitution. The issue of permission for places of worship is one of several points in the 2006 decree which clearly restrict the religious freedom of non-Muslims and contradict not only the provisions of the country's new constitution but also Algeria's commitments to religious freedom under international law.

    Christians in Algeria ask for prayer:
    a. that the church's leaders will know the peace of Jesus, the wisdom of the Father and the guidance of the Holy Spirit as they try to deal with this difficult situation
    b. that the closure order will be withdrawn, and that the church will be able to worship in the building without further hindrance
    c. that the law will be changed so that it ensures religious freedoms such as freedom to worship and freedom to evangelise
    d. that those responsible for the closure order will know the conviction of the Holy Spirit and the forgiveness and new life offered by Jesus


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


  • Syria: third anniversary of abduction of Bishops

    Posted on 22nd April
    Syrian Christians request prayer for their country on the third anniversary of the abduction of two Bishops of Aleppo.
    On 22nd April 2013 Bishop Yohanna Ibrahim of the Syrian Orthodox Church and Bishop Boulos Yaziji of the Greek Orthodox Church were stopped by armed militants while travelling north of Aleppo. The militants abducted the bishops and murdered their driver. A fourth Christian travelling with them escaped. They had been travelling to an area near the border with Turkey as part of negotiations for the release of two priests abducted on 9th February 2013. The fate and whereabouts of the bishops and priests remain unknown.
    Marking the anniversary, the Syrian Orthodox and Greek Orthodox Patriarchs of Antioch issued a joint statement [1] in which they appealed for the release of the bishops and called on the international community to take substantive action on their behalf.
    The Patriarchs describe the plight of the bishops as “a miniature of the great human suffering” inflicted on Syria. They categorically reject the notions that Christians should be considered as a “minority” and that Christians can be protected by facilitating emigration. They emphasise that Syrian Christians share the pain and uncertainty of their compatriots and, together with all Syrians of good will, are committed to working towards peace “based on co-existence, citizenship and moderate religious discourse”.
    The Patriarchs’ appeal comes as the latest round of peace talks in Geneva is faltering amid seemingly intractable political disagreement and escalating levels of violence in Syria. With Orthodox churches preparing to celebrate Easter (1st May), the Patriarchs note that Christians are “children of the Resurrection, and of Light”, and that their hope is ultimately in their risen Lord.
    Syrian Christians request prayer that:
    a. violence will cease, peace will be restored and the clear rule of law will be applied equally for all in every part of Syria
    b. all who remain abducted will know the Lord's strength and sustaining, and that they will be released soon
    c. those who are bereaved will know the comfort of Jesus, and the wounded and traumatised will know His healing and presence
    d. the needs of the millions of Syrians who have been displaced, either internally or abroad, will be adequately met
    e. those engaged in peace talks will prioritise the needs of the Syrian people and not their own agendas
    f.  all who are intent on violent means would know the Spirit's conviction of sin and respond to the Father's offer of new life through the work of the Son

    [1] the full statement is available at:
    May be circulated to general mailing lists and outside organisations, and quoted from freely in reports citing "Middle East Concern" as the source of the information.