Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani, who has spent 1022 days in prison for his faith under the threat of execution, is only one of many Christians persecuted in Iran for their faith. Recently, the ACLJ learned that Iranian Christian Pastor Farshid Fathi, who was arrested on December 26, 2010, lost his appeal and is now serving six years for his faith in the notorious Evin prison.
In an attempt to avoid international scrutiny, the Iranian authorities have cast his Christian activity as “political offenses.” But do not be swayed by these tactics. Like Pastor Youcef, Pastor Fathi was arrested solely for his Christian faith. The regime argued that his Christian activities were equivalent to “actions against national security.” He was also charged with possessing religious propaganda—at trial, the regime offered as evidence that Pastor Fathi had Bibles printed in Farsi, had unlawfully distributed Bibles, and possessed Christian literature.
This blatant violation of Pastor Fathi’s religious freedom has separated him from his wife Leila and two daughters, Rosana and Bardia. Pastor Fathi’s family has asked for prayers “that they would find great comfort in the Lord and in His Church at this time.”
Reverend Sam Yeghnazar of Elam Ministries said “I am convinced that the greater the persecution, the more the church will grow in Iran. Such injustice will only cause more Iranians to want to know the Jesus that people like Farshid proclaim.”
Roughly thirty miles away, another Christian Pastor languishes in jail. Pastor Behnam Irani (pictured above), currently being held in Ghezal Hezar prison, “is suffering from severe bleeding due to stomach ulcers and complications with his colon which caused him to lose consciousness temporarily last week.” He has received death threats and sustained regular beatings from his cellmates and the prison authorities. Sources report that the regime is denying Pastor Irani potential life saving medical treatment.
Like Pastor Fathi, the regime alleged that Pastor Irani’s Christian activities were actions against the regime. Although Pastor Irani was not formally charged with apostasy, the verdict sentencing him includes text that describes the pastor as an apostate and reiterates that apostates “can be killed.” Pastor Irani is a husband and father to two beautiful children.
These two cases of religious persecution in Iran are just a small sample of the horrific injustice against Christians in Iran. While Pastor Youcef has been the brave face of the persecuted in Iran, we know he is just one of many living in fear simply for his Christian faith.
The fight for Pastor Youcef's freedom and for the freedom of the persecuted in Iran is more important than ever. They need your continued support and prayers.