Religious persecution and issues – Monthly Digest February


Christian convert released on bail of nearly $40,000

Article 18 (27.02.2024) – A Christian convert detained for three weeks, following his arrest by Ministry of Intelligence agents, has been released on bail equivalent to nearly $40,000, according to an Iranian Christian news agency.

Iman Golzar was released on 7 February on bail of 2 billions tomans (around $38,000), reports Mohabat News.

He had been arrested at midnight on 16 January at his home in Dezful, western Iran, then held incommunicado in an unknown location.

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Christian convert imprisoned and exiled by Islamic Republic ‘died of heart attack’

Article 18 (22.02.2024) – A Christian convert who had been imprisoned and exiled by the regime has been found dead aged 37.

Ebrahim Firouzi’s family told mourners at his burial today (Thursday, 22 February) that “he died of a heart attack” on Tuesday, 20 February.

Paying tribute to Ebrahim, Article18 Director Mansour Borji, said: “Ebrahim’s untimely death is devastating. We have followed his case since he was arrested by the Iranian regime for going to a house-church and for being in possession of Bibles.

“The Islamic Republic of Iran had sentenced Ebrahim for ‘acting against national security’, but nothing could have been further from the truth.

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‘Faceless victims: rights violations against christians in Iran’

Article 18 (19.02.2024) – Article18’s newly released annual report focuses on the many victims whose names and faces remain unknown, due to fear that publication of their cases may worsen the ir plight.

“Despite a comparable number of Christians being arrested in 2023 as in previous years – 166 arrests were documented in 2023, compared to 134 in 2022 – fewer names and faces could be publicised,” notes the report, ‘Faceless Victims: Rights Violations Against Christians in Iran’, released today in collaboration with Open Doors, CSW and Middle East Concern.

Arrests came in waves in 2023, the report notes, with “just a handful reported prior to June, then over 100 within the next three months, before a further rash of arrests at Christmas.

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For Iranian converts claiming religious persecution, European courts require proof of faith

Religion news (19.02.2024) – The tattoo spelling “GOD” sits prominently between the man’s eyebrows, a letter disappearing with every furrowed expression.

The green ink, which draws sideways glances from nearby tables as Arash sips his cappuccino, would swiftly get him arrested or killed back home, apostasy being a crime of the highest order. But the British courts were not so convinced of his newfound religious beliefs.

Arash, an Iranian who converted from Islam to Christianity and sought asylum in the U.K., has had a difficult time proving he is really Christian. Immigration officials were skeptical when they read his application and saw the pictures of his permanent brow, said Arash, whose name has been changed by request to protect his family members who remain in Iran.

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Christian convert facing imprisonment in Iran threatened with deportation from Turkey

Article 18 – (16.02.2024) – A Christian convert who fled Iran in 2013 to escape his impending imprisonment on account of his faith now faces the threat of deportation from Turkey.

Mojtaba Keshavarz Ahmadi, who is 56 years old, was arrested suddenly on 29 January by the Turkish immigration authorities and transferred to a deportation camp in western Turkey, where he remains.

Mojtaba was accused of leaving his city of residence, Düzce, which is near Istanbul, without authorisation – something he denies and for which the Turkish authorities provided no evidence.

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Persecution against christians in Iran continues to worsen

Religion unplugged (09.02.2024) – Iranian Christians continued to face harassment, arrests and imprisonment last year for practicing their faith, according to a report issued on Monday.

The 35-page report, issued by four non-profit organizations advocating for persecuted Christians across the world, found that Christians have been deprived of their right to freely practice their faith.

This lack of religious freedom, the report said, affected both “recognized” Christians of Armenian and Assyrian descent and converts.

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Two Iranian Baha’i women face new charges after release

Iran Press Watch (25.02.2024) – Two Iranian Baha’is, Roha Imani and Firoozeh Sultan Mohammadi, were summoned to face new charges following their release from custody in December 2023.

Reports say the Fifth Investigation Branch of Kerman informed both women on February 20 that they are accused of “promotion of the Baha’i faith” and activities deemed inconsistent with the Islamic Sharia law.

Imani and Mohammadi were initially arrested at their homes in Kerman on December 4, 2023, and held in solitary confinement for 17 days before being released on bail.

In the past year, many Baha’is, predominantly women, have been subjected to arrests and imprisonment.


Iranian agents beat Baha’i youth during attack on educational group—and knowledge itself

Iran Press Watch (16.02.2024) – On the morning of 12 February, in the Iranian city of Qaemshahr, a group of young Baha’is had gathered in a private home owned by a Baha’i woman, Maryam Zabihi Zamani, when 15 agents of the Ministry of Intelligence burst in and proceeded to raid the premises in an attack on the simple act of working to acquire knowledge. The young Baha’is were at the home to sit an exam as part of their informal studies in the Baha’i Institute for Higher Education. Iran’s government bars young Baha’is from entering the country’s established universities—forcing Baha’is to meet in private homes and through informal groups to pursue university-level studies.

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Baha’i Citizen Rouya Sabet arrested in Shiraz

Iran Press Watch (16.02.2024) – On February 15, Baha’i citizen Rouya Sabet was arbitrarily arrested in Shiraz by IRGC Intelligence agents and transferred to an undisclosed facility.


A source close to her family confirmed Sabet’s arrest, revealing to HRANA that IRGC Intelligence is responsible for the apprehension. The source disclosed that Sabet, who had traveled to Shiraz from the UAE on January 4 to care for her elderly parent, was scheduled to return on January 25. However, two days before her planned departure, IRGC Intelligence agents executed a search warrant at her parent’s residence.


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Baha’i educator Keyvan Rahimian receives nine-year prison sentence

Iran Press Watch (15.02.2024) – Keyvan Rahimian, a Baha’i citizen and lecturer at an online university affiliated with the Baha’i community, has been sentenced to nine years in prison, accompanied by a fine and a six-year deprivation of social rights.

The verdict, issued by Branch 15 of the Tehran Revolutionary Court, outlines a five-year sentence for “educational activities and propagating against Sharia Islam” and a four-year sentence for “assembly and collusion against national security.” Alongside the prison term, Rahimian has been prohibited from exercising social rights and ordered to pay a fine.

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Iranian Baha’i woman jailed for five years

Iran Press Watch (14.02.2024) – A Baha’i woman was apprehended by agents of the Iranian Ministry of Intelligence on the streets of Shiraz on February 13 and taken to Adel Abad prison to start her prison sentence.

The First Branch of Shiraz Revolutionary Court sentenced Mina Karami to five years in prison after finding her guilty of “deviant educational and propaganda activities contrary to or disruptive of the Sharia of Islam.”

She was also given a ten-year deprivation of social rights and a two-year travel ban.

Branch 37 of the Court of Appeal of Fars Province later upheld the ruling.

Karami’s ordeal began in September 2021, when agents of the Shiraz Intelligence Department searched her residence.

Following the search, Karami was summoned to the Intelligence Department for interrogation and arrested. She was later released on bail.


Baha’i Citizen Shahdokht Khanjani faces eleven-year sentence upheld on appeal

Iran Press Watch (09.02.2024) – In the ruling issued on January 27, 2024, Khanjani was sentenced to ten years for “forming groups to act against national security” and one year for “propaganda against the regime.” She is also prohibited from joining political/civil/cultural groups and parties, with restrictions on social media activities for two years.

According to Article 134 of the Islamic Penal Code, the ten-year term for the first charge is enforceable.

Initially, the Revolutionary Court of Semnan had sentenced Khanjani to 11 years for the mentioned charges, along with five years for “propagating the Baha’i sect.” On appeal, the latter charge was dropped, as it was deemed inseparable from the charge of “forming groups to act against national security.” Additionally, a fine and a 15-year deprivation of social rights were annulled.

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Azita Foroughi went to Vakil Abad Prison in Mashhad to serve her sentence

Iran Press Watch (06.02.2024) – Today, Saturday the 27th of January, Azita Foroughi Motlagh, a Baha’i citizen living in city of Mashhad, went to Vakil Abad prison in this city to serve her sentence.

According to HRANA news agency, the news organ of the Human Rights Activists in Iran, Azita Foroughi Motlagh went to Vakil Abad prison in Mashhad to endure imprisonment.

Earlier, she was sentenced to three years and eight months in prison by Branch One of Mashhad Revolutionary Court. This verdict was finally confirmed in the thirty-fifth branch of the Court of Appeals of Khorasan Razavi province.

In August of this year, this Baha’i citizen faced the opening of a judicial case against her in the Mashhad Prosecutor’s Office and was summoned to Branch 903 of the District 9 Prosecutor’s Office of Mashhad.

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