On 15 February Christian convert Hadi (Moslem) Rahimi (33) was released from Evin Prison. This follows the release of Zaman (Saheb) Fadaei on 8 February. Both converts were pardoned as part of an amnesty for the 44th anniversary of the Islamic Revolution on 11 February.
While the prisoners and their families rejoice at being reunited, the amnesty – which may possibly apply to thousands of prisoners – has been criticised by human rights organisations. According to Hadi Ghaemi, executive director of the Center for Human Rights in Iran, the “so-called ‘pardon’ is nothing but a shameless public relations stunt that shows the completely arbitrary nature of justice in the Islamic Republic, where arrests and releases are at the whim of the state.”
Moslem was arrested in February 2020 along with other members of a house church in Rasht. They attended a hearing at Branch 10 of the Revolutionary Court in Rasht to face charges related to house church membership and continued to be detained until the bail demand was reduced from 500 million tomans (then approximately US$30,000) to 200 million tomans (approximately US$12,000). Moslem was then released on bail on 20 May 2020.
On 1 August 2020 they were each sentenced to between two and five years in prison for ‘actions against national security,’ and ‘attending home churches.’ Moslem received a four-year prison sentence which was upheld on appeal in September 2020.
Moslem turned himself in to Evin Prison on 9 January 2022 to release the bail submitted by a friend.
Prayer is requested that
- Moslem will have a blessed time reunited with his family
- Other Christians, including pastor Yousef Nadarkhani, will be included in the pardon and released from prison
- Iran will stop the criminalisation of Christian converts and other religious adherents who are not recognised by the state