Ebrahim Firouzi has announced a 10-day hunger strike to protest the mistreatment of new Christian believers and converts by the judicial authorities in Iran.
Iran is a dangerous place for Bible believing Christians. Anyone working to win converts to Christianity, and those Muslims who embrace its message of salvation, find themselves charged by the Islamic Republic with vague religious and secular crimes, some of which carry the death penalty.
In recent weeks 11 Christians, including 2 church pastors, have been sentenced to lengthy prison terms of 10 years or more, ostensibly on charges of (or related to) acting against national security, as reported by Middle East Concern.
In response to this injustice the 30-year-old Christian convert and prisoner Ebrahim Firouzi has announced a 10-day hunger strike to protest against the mistreatment of new Christian believers and converts by the judicial authorities in Iran.
Prior to commencing the hunger strike Ebrahim issued the following statement:
“Following the mistreatment of new Christian believers and converts by the judicial authorities, refusing Christian prisoners access to Christian literature, and issuing unjust and hefty verdicts and sentences against new Christian believers and converts to the point that in the recent months tens of Christians have been sentenced to long years of imprisonment, I hereby announce going on hunger strike, commencing on 17th July 2017, for a period of 10 days, in support of the rights of fellow Christians.”
“I have announced my concerns about these limitations on Christians to the judiciary of Tehran in a letter dated 16th July 2017: the regime of Iran does not determine or confirm the Christian faith of people and this matter is entirely within the jurisdiction of the Church.”
Ebrahim Firouzi was arrested in Tehran on 21st August 2013. He was due for release in January 2015 after serving a 10-month prison sentence for propaganda against the regime, insulting Islamic sacraments and acting against national security, but the Iranian authorities brought additional charges against him of “acting against national security, gathering, and collusion” and sentenced him to an additional 5 years’ imprisonment. Ebrahim is serving his sentence in Rajaei Shahr Prison in Karaj.
Christians given prison sentences in Iran since 20th June 2017:
- Pastor Victor Bet Tamraz, 10 years
- Amin Afshar Naderi, 15 years
- Hadi Asgari, 10 years
- Pastor Yousef Nadarkhani, 10 years
- Mohammad Reza Omidi, 10 years
- Mohammad Ali Mosayebzadeh, 10 years
- Zaman Fadaie, 10 years
- Naser Navard Goltapeh, 10 years
- Bahram Nasibov, 10 years
- Yusif Farhadov, 10 years
- Eldar Gurbanov, 10 years
Underground house churches increasing
Fox News recently noted that despite the Iranian regime’s crackdown on Christianity, a large underground church movement is growing.
Hundreds of Iranians have reportedly been converting to Christianity, and many are being baptized in large ceremonies in underground churches held in private homes across the country.
There are about 150,000 traditional Christians in Iran, mostly Armenians who live in relative peace with the regime. They were born Christians, as Iran sees it, and within limits their rights are respected. They have more than 100 churches
But there are also Christians who worship in what are called “house churches” and are part of congregations that may include large numbers of people who were born to Muslim families and converted to Christianity—people whom the Islamic Republic does not accept and actively persecutes.
Altogether, according to activists, there are about 90 Christians being held in various Iranian prisons. And despite President Hassan Rouhani’s promise during this 2013 election campaign that “all ethnicities, all religions, even religious minorities, must feel justice,” the targeting of Christian converts has continued.