Iran sentences 2 Christians to 8 years in jail for evangelizing

Iran has sentenced two Christians to eight years in prison each for organizing house church meetings and evangelizing. They were arrested in Shiraz in July last year and charged with "acting against national security."

(WIKIMEDIA COMMONS / Petr Adam Dohnálek)Mosque and shrine of Emir Ali in Shiraz, Iran. 3 August 2010.

On Dec. 28, Eskandar Rezaei and Soroush Saraei were handed eight-year prison sentences each for allegedly "acting against national security." Saraei, who was the pastor of the Church of Shiraz, was also charged with "forgery" for reportedly writing letters asking for the religious exemption for students from Islamic studies classes, the Pakistan Christian Post detailed.

Iranian authorities arrested Rezaei on July 6, 2017 at his home in Lar. The officials also seized hundreds of copies of the New Testament from the location and detained him at the Adel-Aabad prison in Shiraz.

Saraei, on the other hand, was arrested in the same month as Rezaei. However, he was initially detained at the intelligence headquarters before being moved to the prison in Shiraz.

The two Christians were freed on bail after a few months. After the court hearing in Shiraz in December, they were given seven-year sentences each.

Rezaei and Saraei are planning to appeal the jail sentences given to them.

Last month, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu slammed Iran's foreign minister for sending out a Twitter message greeting everyone a "happy and peaceful Christmas." He called out the Islamic regime for its apparent hypocrisy, given that Christians are being persecuted in the country, the Christian Broadcasting Network reported.

In a recorded message posted on social media, Netanyahu wondered out loud how the Christians jailed for their faith would react to the Iranian minister's tweet. He slammed Iran for allegedly torturing believers who practice their religion while sending out a public Christmas greeting to its citizens.

At the end of his message, Netanyahu expressed solidarity with the persecuted Christians in Iran. The Israeli leader also said the rest of the world also stands with the suffering believers.