11/02/2019 Iran (International Christian Concern) – An elderly Iranian convert to Christianity, Ismaeil Maghrebinejad, is scheduled to attend a court hearing today in Shiraz regarding charges relating to “propaganda against the state and insulting the sacred Iranian establishment.”
This hearing comes nearly two weeks after a challenging exchange in the Shiraz Revolutionary court. The judge had asked Ismaeil about whether he was an apostate and if he had insulted Islam. Ismaeil responded by mentioning that the definition of apostasy was flexible depending on different ayatollahs. The judge was angered about this response and subsequently increased his bail to 100 million tomans ($9000 USD).
Iran is an officially Islamic nation, but stands apart from the broader Middle East in that it both embraces a Shia worldview and makes it the driving cornerstone of the governmental structure. Ayatollahs, or religious leaders, also have influential governmental roles and influence. However, Iran’s religious elite is also known to be steeped in ideological controversy as well as political corruption. Iran has acknowledged that these kinds of problems are one of the reasons why Christianity has grown so significantly within the country. The government however is united in its relentless persecution of Christians, who are viewed as a national security threat.