Serving Persecuted Christians Worldwide - Christian arrested during wave of arrests in Iran last year granted bail, but others given long sentences - Open Doors UK & Ireland
09 May 2024

Christian arrested during wave of arrests in Iran last year granted bail, but others given long sentences

We have an update on the wave of Christian arrests in Iran last year, plus news about three other believers whose activities have made them a target for the authorities.  

Christians from Iran

Shabeddin Shahi, Esmaeil Narimanpour and Mina Khajavi have all been targeted by the authorities for their involvement in Christian activities

You might remember praying for Christians in Iran following a spate of arrests last summer and over the Christmas period. Whilst one believer has been granted bail, it’s understood that several others remain in prison, with some already having been sentenced to long imprisonments.

Esmaeil Narimanpour – who was among at least 46 believers arrested over the festive period – spent four months in custody before being granted bail last month. He was charged with ‘acting against national security’ when officials raided his home on Christmas Eve and confiscated literature, despite the absence of a warrant. He managed to contact his family on Christmas Day to update them on his whereabouts, but when they made further attempts to contact him, they themselves were detained and interrogated for several hours. 

Believer struggles to reach prison cell bed

In a separate case, Mina Khajavi (60) – who is serving a six-year prison sentence in Tehran’s notorious Evin Prison for leading a house church – is being denied adequate medical care for her arthritis. She walks with a limp and struggles to climb the bunkbed in her prison cell. The only treatment she is being given is the occasional painkiller. Prior to her imprisonment, she was prevented from getting surgery for her ankle, which she injured in a car accident. 

Meanwhile, Shabeddin Shahi is waiting to face a second and final hearing after being charged with propaganda against the country’s Islamic regime. He was arrested in December 2023 along with Milad Goodarzi and brothers Alireza and Amir Nourmohammadi. He was notified of the charges on 11 March and given five days to appear at court, which he fulfilled. 


Laleh has been charged with 'acting against national security'

And in another recent case, Laleh Saati (45) has been sentenced to two years' imprisonment. She was baptised in a church in Malaysia and returned to Iran in 2017 to be with her elderly parents. At the time, she was interrogated over a period of around three weeks, during which evidence of her Christian activities and baptism abroad were presented proving her ‘crime’. She was arrested in February 2024, followed by a court hearing in March where she was given her sentence. 

Mixed news symptomatic of bigger picture

This mixed news from Iran – which is currently ninth on the World Watch List – is symptomatic of the unpredictable and brutal approach of the authorities towards Christians. Whilst some believers are granted bail and even released, others remain held, often for long stretches in awful conditions. Meanwhile, believers who continue to bravely express their faith do so at enormous risk of arrest. And as Laleh's case shows, believers who engage with Christian activities abroad can also be targeted.

Thank you for faithfully praying for our Iranian family. Please keep Esmaeil, Mina, Shabeddin and Laleh, and all others either in prison or facing the prospect of it, in your prayers. 

Sources: Article 18 and Middle East Concern

Please pray
  • For Esmaeil’s safety, wellbeing and faith as he transitions back to freedom, and pray that all charges against him will be dropped
  • For healing for Mina and that she will get the care she needs, and ask the Holy Spirit to strengthen and encourage Shabeddin as he waits the outcome of his case
  • That all believers in prison, or facing imprisonment, will see God’s power and love at work in their lives and situations. 
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