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Iranian pastor’s wife faces court hearing in Iran

Sept. 15, 2017 | by Anthony Marr

Iranian Christians request prayer for Mrs. Shamiram Isavi Khabizeh, the wife of Pastor Victor Bet Tamraz, whose court hearing has been postponed again, Middle East Concern reports.

Prayer is also requested for Iranian Christian Ebrahim Firouzi, who continues to be on hunger strike in prison.

Middle East Concern is a Christian organization which supports people in the Middle East and North Africa who are marginalized, discriminated against or persecuted for being or becoming Christians.

Mrs. Shamiram

Mrs. Shamiram was called to attend a hearing on July 31, 2017, in Tehran at Branch 26 of the Islamic Revolutionary Court. The judge assigned to the case is Mr. Ahmadzadeh. However, her hearing was postponed until Monday, August 21, 2017.

On August 21, 2017, Mrs. Shamiram and her lawyer appeared in court and requested another postponement, in order to gather more information and to better prepare for the hearing.

Mrs. Shamiram suffers from minor heart problems.

She was summoned by the authorities in June 2017 to Branch 3 of the Islamic Revolutionary Court, and charged with “participating in foreign seminars” and “acting against Iranian national security” as a church member. She was released after one day, on bail of 100 million Tomans (approximately U.S. $30,000).

Pastor Bet Tamraz

Mrs Shamiram’s husband, Pastor Victor Bet Tamraz, was sentenced in July 2017 to 10 years in prison in Iran, Middle East Concern reports.

However, Iranian Christians praise the Lord for Amin Afshar Naderi’s release from prison on bail on July 25, 2017. They request prayer for his health following a 21-day hunger strike, and for the appeal process for him and the two believers sentenced with him.

Following a harsh court verdict, Amin went on hunger strike until his release on bail. During that time his health deteriorated rapidly.

In a verdict delivered on July 3-4, 2017, Amin was sentenced to 15 years (possibly including time already served). Also sentenced with him were Pastor Victor and Hadi Asgari, both for 10 years, and all were given two-year travel bans. 

Bail amounts previously set were also raised by the judge, who set bail for Amin at 270 million Tomans (approximately U.S. $80,000) and for Hadi at 170 million Tomans (approximately U.S. $50,000). 

They have filed an appeal against their sentences and await a hearing.

Amin was among several Christians arrested on December 26, 2014, at a Christmas celebration at Pastor Victor’s home in Tehran. Pastor Victor, who is of Assyrian background, was verbally charged with “conducting evangelism”, “illegal house church activities” and “Bible printing and distribution” (among other charges). He was released on bail on March 1, 2015. 

Amin, a convert from Islam, was charged with “acting against national security” and “insulting the sacred” (blasphemy). Hadi, also a convert, was not present at the Christmas celebration but was arrested in August 2016 at a picnic in Firuzkuh and charged with “acting against national security” and “organizing and creating house churches.” Hadi remains in prison.

Ebrahim Firouzi

On July 17, 2017, Ebrahim started a 10-day hunger strike to protest injustices inflicted on Christian believers (primarily converts) by the judicial authorities in Iran. He noted the unjust verdicts and harsh sentences given to Iranian Christians in recent months and drew attention to the refusal to allow Christian prisoners access to Christian literature.

In late July, the prison authorities transferred Ebrahim along with a group of other prisoners (about 20 altogether) to another section of the prison under high security with very few facilities. They have confiscated Ebrahim's glasses and other personal items.

On the 30th July 2017, Ebrahim went on hunger strike once again, to protest these new conditions. He remains on hunger strike and his physical condition deteriorates.

Ebrahim was arrested in Tehran on August 21, 2013. He was due for release in January 2015 after serving 10-months for "propaganda against the regime, insulting Islamic sacraments and acting against national security."

However, the Iranian authorities then brought additional charges of "acting against national security, gathering, and collusion," sentencing him to a further 5 years' imprisonment. Ebrahim is serving his sentence in Rajaei Shahr Prison in Karaj.

Prayer requests

Iranian Christians request prayer:

• The judge will acquit Mrs. Shamiram and that the bail money will be returned to the family 

• The lawyer would act with wisdom and care in defending Mrs. Shamiram 

• For the Lord to restore Mrs. Shamiram to full health 

• Amin will know the Lord's complete healing and restoration following his imprisonment and hunger strike

• Bail money will be returned

• The appeal judge will overturn the convictions and sentences and acquit Pastor Victor, Amin and Hadi

• For Hadi to be released from prison soon.

• The Lord will draw near to Ebrahim and grant peace to him and his family 

• The Lord will strengthen Ebrahim physically and spiritually 

• Iranian authorities will review the sentences given to Ebrahim, and that he will be freed 

• Iranian authorities will halt the persecution of Christians and recognize their right to freedom of religion and belief

• Those responsible for persecuting Christians in Iran will love mercy, act justly, learn about Jesus and choose to follow Him

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