Iran Cracking Down on Christian Converts, Even Amidst the Pandemic

Middle East Concern has recently released an article explaining the situation of four Iranian Christian converts who have recently attended their hearing on May 14th in regards to the charges raised against them for participating in “house church membership.” The group of four, including Ramin Hassanpour, Kathrin Sajadpour, Moslem Rahimi, and another who wishes to remain anonymous, were originally detained in February and at their hearing in May were allowed to be released on a 500 million tomans (USD $30,000) bail each; however, as none of the four Christians were able to pay the bail, they have been transported to and detained at Lakan Prison, where their bail has been lowered to 200 million tomans (USD $13,000). Ramin Hassanpour and Kathrin Sajadpour are a married couple, whose children, aged 16 and 7, are being taken care of by grandparents.

In another update released by Middle East Concern, Iranian Christian convert Ismaeil Maghrebinejad, who was charged in late February for “membership of a group hostile to the regime” and originally sentenced to 2 years in prison, had his sentence extended at his retrial on May 9, 2020. According to Middle East Concern, “the judge had requested the retrial, which raised hopes the injustice would be addressed. Instead of acquitting Ismaeil or reducing the sentence, not only was the previous sentence upheld, but Ismaeil was given an additional year in prison for ‘propaganda against the state.'” Ismaeil’s sentence, according to his lawyer, is unfounded as it is in regards to Ismaeil’s receiving a Bible passage from a Christian media outlet, which neither certifies his membership to this particular Christian group, nor proves his guilt. Interestingly, these are not the only sentences against Ismaeil. Just one month prior, Ismaeil was sentences to three years in prison for his online response of a smiley face to a post criticizing the clergy. Altogether, Ismaeil was handed sentences adding up to six years in prison- he is currently appealing all of his sentences.