IRAN – Iran extends Christian convert’s sentence 2 years for ‘evangelical Zionist Christianity’

Post | Samuel Smith | March 10, 2020

A 65-year-old Iranian Christian convert who was sentenced to three years in prison for “insulting Islamic sacred beliefs” in January has been sentenced to two more years in prison while nine other converts lost appeals of their five-year sentences. 

Article 18, a nonprofit Christian persecution watchdog group, reports that convert Ismaeil Maghrebinejad was sentenced to the additional years on Feb. 27 for allegedly being a member of “a group hostile to the regime.”

Maghrebinejad, whose daughter and son-in-law live in the United States, was arrested in his home in January 2019 after he was accused of “apostasy” and “propaganda against the Islamic Republic.”

He was accused of being a part of a group that espoused “evangelical Zionist Christianity.”

Under Article 499 of the Islamic Penal Code, being a member of a group that stands against the regime is punishable by three months to five years in prison. 

According to Article 18 Advocacy Director Mansour Borji, Maghrebinejad is a member of an Anglican church. 

Borji said that the government’s labeling of Maghrebinejad as an evangelical shows that “blanket labeling is inaccurately applied to any Christian arrested for their religious activities.

The director also pointed out that the judge in Maghrebinejad’s case based his ruling off of a military intelligence report, noting that it is “odd and somewhat rare” for the military to be involved in a civilian case.

“[T]he revolutionary courts try to justify their violations of religious freedom,” Borji said in a statement.