On 1st December Middle East Concern requested prayer prior to a second court hearing for Yousef Nadarkhani, Yaser Mosibzadeh, Saheb Fadayee and Mohammed Reza Omidi on charges of action against national security. This hearing took place today (14th December), but no verdict has been given and a third hearing might yet take place.
Yaser, Saheb and Mohammed Reza were arrested at a house church gathering in Rasht on 13th May and charged with “action against national security”. Their pastor Yousef Nadarkhani also faced the same charge later. All four were summoned to the Revolutionary Court in Rasht on 15th October for the initial hearing.
In addition Yaser, Saheb and Mohammed Reza faced charges related to consumption of alcohol for drinking wine during a communion service. After a court hearing on 10th September they were found guilty and each sentenced to 80 lashes, but they are appealing against this verdict and sentence. The appeal hearing is scheduled for 9th February 2017.
Drinking alcohol is not illegal for Christians in Iran, but under applicable Islamic law it is prohibited for Muslims. The charges brought against Christian converts reflect the state view that a Muslim cannot change his / her religion.
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Iranian Christians request prayer that:
a. the four men will be acquitted of the charges of acting against national security
b. the appeal in February against the sentence of 80 lashes for consumption of alcohol will be successful, in that the Christian faith of the three men will be recognised by the court and they will be acquitted of these charges that apply to Muslims only
c. God will give His peace to the men and their families, and that they will not be anxious
d. all officials involved (especially the judge) will love mercy, act justly, learn about Jesus and choose to follow Him