Iranian Christian convert sentenced to five years in prison

12 June 2024

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An Iranian convert from Islam has been sentenced to five years in prison after his Christian activities were judged a breach of national security.

Esmaeil Narimanpour was sentenced for “acting against national security” by a court on Ahvaz, western Iran, on 28 May.

He now awaits the summons to begin his sentence.

Esmaeil was among nearly 50 Christians who were arrested in raids over the Christmas period [Image credit Article 18]

Unlike the historic Armenian- and Assyrian-speaking Christian communities of Iran, Farsi-speaking Christians such as Esmaeil are converts from Islam – that is, apostates – and therefore punishable according to Islamic law.

Esmaeil was among nearly 50 Christians arrested over the Christmas period. His arrest came on 24 December 2023, when his home was raided in a search without a warrant and his Christian books were confiscated.

He was detained for more than four months, and eventually released on 30 April, on a bail of more than £8,000 ($10,000; €9,300).

Esmaeil was previously arrested on accusation of “propaganda activities in favour of anti-regime groups” in April 2021. He was found not guilty, and the judge ruled that conversion to a different religion was not punishable under the laws of Iran.

Esmaeil, however, was still forced to attend Islamic religious classes in January 2022.

Ask that the Lord will grant comfort and courage to Esmaeil through this trying process, and keep his faith strong. Pray for all Christian converts unjustly imprisoned in Iran, and ask that those governing Iran will come to understand the light of Christ’s love.