On 16 April 2023, the appeal court in Duhok confirmed the sentence of Jagarkhuin Abdulrahman Ismael, known as “Jagar,” issued by the lower court on 29 March 2023. Christians in Iraq ask for continued prayer for him, his family and his church.
On 29 March, a court in Dohuk found Jagar guilty of misusing a telecommunication device, under a Kurdistan Region (KRI) law that criminalizes “… threatening, defamaming or insulting …” others. It is believed the prosecutor was encouraged to charge Jagar under this law, instead of the blasphemy law, to ensure a harsher sentence. His church had difficulty finding him a lawyer due to rising Islamic sentiment in the KRI.
Jagar, 38 years old and married, became a Christian in 2018 and attends the Anabaptist church in Dohuk. In October 2022 he was summoned to court because of social media posts deemed insulting to the Prophet of Islam. He was given a verbal warning and released. In early November 2022 he was summoned again, informed of the blasphemy charge and detained. He was later released on bail.
The case was further fueled by that of Bishop Bahzad Mziri, the regional leader of the Anabaptist church, who was also charged with blasphemy in the same period. The two cases were widely publicized online, spurring incitement of hate against Christians.
It uncertain whether he can makes further appeals.
Christians in Iraq request prayer:
- for Jagar, his family and his church to know the peace of Jesus and the comfort of the Holy Spirit
- for the immediate release of Jagar or that another chance for a speedy and a fair appeal could be found
- for an end to the incitement of hate against Christians in the KRI
- for more tolerance and freedom for Christians