03/08/2020 Iran (International Christian Concern) – 65-year-old Iranian Christian convert Ismaeil Maghrebinejad has received an additional two-year prison sentence for “membership of a group hostile to the regime.” He had previously been sentenced to three years in prison for “insulting Islamic sacred beliefs.” This latest sentence is noteworthy because it relied upon evidence given by the intelligence branch of Iran’s military, although Ismaeil has no links to the military, according to Article 18.
Ismaeil had previously been issued a bail amount of approximately $9,000 USD and was facing difficulties obtaining his own lawyer for his defense. However, the judge eventually accepted this lawyer. He was originally facing an apostasy charge, but this was dropped during a hearing in November.
Iran views Christianity as a national security threat since its government’s identity stems from Islam. The country, however, has tired of the government’s harsh rule over people’s lives and conscience. Many are abandoning Islam and instead converting to Christianity. Iran has the fastest growth of Christianity in the region. It also rates as a Tier 1 Country of Particular Concern by the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom.