Convert fined and deprived of social rights for teaching others about Christianity

Convert fined and deprived of social rights for teaching others about Christianity

A Christian convert has been fined and “deprived of social rights” for five years for “engaging in educational activities contrary to the holy religion of Islam by establishing house-churches”.

Rahmat Rostamipour, 49, must pay 6 million tomans (around $185) now and a further 18 million should he “re-offend” in the next two years. 

He is the latest Iranian Christian to fall foul of Iran’s amended Article 500 of the penal code, which allows charges to be brought for educating others in a way deemed “contrary to Islam”.

Three house-church members from Karaj are already serving three-year sentences under the new law, and three others from Rasht face five years in prison.

In Rahmat’s case, the court verdict issued on 21 May by Branch 102 of the Civil Court of Bandar Anzali states that Rahmat was found to have engaged in “propaganda” because of “messaging others about Christianity”, “teaching the religion of Christianity”, and as a result of “his own clear confession that he has held Christian house-churches”.

And although the fine issued for Rahmat is relatively light, 6 million tomans equates to around one month’s wages in Iran at the moment, and he now has a criminal record.


Rahmat was arrested on 18 April at his home in Bandar Anzali, which is in the north of Iran, by agents from the Ministry of Intelligence, who also confiscated several personal belongings, including Bibles.

The agents also took possession of the family’s phones, ID cards, a number of books, and some tablets used by his children for school, before taking Rahmat into custody. 

The agents made it clear they also intended to arrest Rahmat’s wife, Azar, but refrained from doing so because the raid brought on a panic attack in the couple’s teenage daughter.

However, Azar was summoned to the MOIS Office in Anzali the following day, and returned home after hours of interrogation.

Although Christianity is one of three recognised religions in Iran, converts are not recognised as Christians, nor are they permitted to attend the churches of the recognised ethnic Armenian and Assyrian Christians. As a result, the only available place for them to worship is within private homes in what have become known as house-churches. But these are not tolerated by the regime and have been referred to as “enemy groups” of a “Zionist cult”. Hundreds of house-church members have been arrested in recent years and scores given sentences of up to 15 years in prison on charges of “acting against national security”.