World Watch Monitor

Three Iranian Christian converts have been charged with “acting against national security” and illegal consumption of alcohol during Holy Communion. (Non-Muslims are permitted to drink alcohol in Iran, but leaving Islam is forbidden, so any such conversions are not recognised.)

Yasser Mossayebzadeh, Saheb Fadaie and Mohammad Reza Omidi – all from Muslim backgrounds – were charged at a court hearing in the northern city of Rasht on 10th September. If found guilty, they are likely to be flogged. In 2012, Omidi was one of four Christians given 80 lashes after being convicted of the same charge.

Mossayebzadeh, Fadaie and Omidi were arrested on 13th May alongside Youcef Nadarkhani, a pastor once sentenced to death for apostasy, and his wife, Tina. The couple were released later that day, but the three others were detained. Nadarkhani was later also charged with acting against national security, although World Watch Monitor understands he was not obliged to attend the hearing on 10th September.

A verdict is expected within 10 days. 

More than 200 Christians have been detained by Iranian authorities since 2015. Many are in jail, while others have been released conditionally, pending sentencing or an appeal. 

Middle East Concern’s Rob Duncan said that at least 43 Christians were arrested in August alone. 

“The Iranian regime is conducting a very active campaign against house churches at the moment and leaders of house churches are harassed and put under pressure,” he said.