IRAN | Two Church Leaders Released on Bail


Date:                        September 29, 2021


Two church leaders, from the Church of Iran denomination in the city of Rasht, were released on bail Sept. 21. The situation of a third leader remains unclear.
Morteza Mashhoudkari, Ahmad Sarparast and Ayoub Pourrezade were arrested on the evening of Sept. 5 when secret police (MOIS) agents raided the house where they were meeting. They were taken to and held at an unknown location until Mashhoudkari and Sarparast were released on bail.
Christians in the northern city of Rasht have faced intense harassment at the hands of the Iranian authorities for several years. In February, the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention arrested alongside three others in 2018, is arbitrary.
Mohammadreza Omidi (Yuhan) and Deacon Saheb Fadaie, also from Rasht, received 80 lashes for drinking wine during a Communion service in October 2020 and November 2020, respectively. Omidi is currently serving 21 months in internal exile, while Deacon Fadaie is serving a six-year sentence. 
In September 2019, Pastor Matthias Haghnejad and eight other Christians from the Church of Iran in Rasht received five-year sentences on charges of “endangering state security” and “promoting Zionism.”
CSW’s Founder President Mervyn Thomas said, “While we are relieved to learn that Morteza Mashhoudkari and Ahmad Sarparast have been released on bail, we maintain that they should never have been arrested in the first place. We call for the charges against both these men, and Ayoub Pourrezade, to be dismissed without condition, and urge the Iranian government to ensure that Mr. Pourrezade is also released. We also continue to call for the immediate and unconditional release of pastors Yousef Nadarkhani, Matthias Haghnejad, Deacon Fadaie, Mr. Omidi, and of all others serving sentences following conviction on excessive charges, and to end the harassment, and even persecution of religious minority communities.”

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