Fariba Dalir, who converted to Christianity starts prison term.

Fariba Dalir, who converted to Christianity starts prison term.

Two Iranian Christian Converts Begin Prison Sentences


Two Iranian Christian converts, one in capital Tehran and the other in northern city of Rasht, have begun jail sentences.

Sakineh (Mehri) Behjati was transferred to Lakan Prison in Rasht Saturday after being convicted of “acting against national security” after attending home-based religious meetings and “promoting Zionist Christianity.”

Article 18 website, a London-based organization that says it promotes religious freedom in Iran and operates “under a number of Iranian churches in Europe,” claimed that another Christian convert, identified as 51-year-old Fariba Dalir, began serving a two-year prison sentence in Tehran’s Evin prison Saturday, after being charged with acting against national security through establishing and leading what Article 18 called “an Evangelical Christian church.”

While Iran persecutes followers of the Baja’i religious community and rejects esoteric philosophies and cults, the constitution recognizes Christianity, Zoroastrianism and Judaism – whose members have official representatives in parliament. However, churches that are allowed to operate are ethnic Christian congregations, such as Armenians and Assyrians.

These established churches are discouraged from accepting new members, and there is official suspicion of evangelical, millenarianist Protestant sects that carry out services in Persian. Renouncing Islam is forbidden by Sharia and the punishment could be death, although the government in Iran pursues lesser punishments.

The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in Iran, Javaid Rehman, said in February that at least 53 Christian converts were arrested in Iran in 2021.

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