Christian convert, 60, summoned to begin prison sentence for house-church leadership

Christian convert, 60, summoned to begin prison sentence for house-church leadership

A 60-year-old Iranian Christian convert has been summoned to begin her six-year prison sentence for “acting against national security by promoting ‘Zionist’ Christianity” through leadership of a house-church.

Mina Khajavi, who was arrested back in 2020, was sentenced in 2022 alongside fellow Christian convert Malihe Nazari, who also received a six-year sentence, and Iranian-Armenian pastor Joseph Shahbazian, who was sentenced to 10 years.

Mina shortly after the accident.

However, while Joseph and Malihe began serving their sentences a few months later, Mina was viewed as being unfit to serve her sentence, after she was run over by a car.

Mina’s ankle was badly broken, and metal plates had to be fitted. 

Mina continues to walk with a limp today and has developed arthritis, but on Wednesday, 3 January, she was told she must submit herself to Evin Prison within five days.

This is in spite of the fact that both Joseph and Malihe, who were convicted on the same charge, were released early from their sentences.

Joseph’s sentence was initially reduced to two years, after an appeal-court judge ruled there was “not enough evidence to determine the maximum punishment specified in Article 498 of the Islamic Penal Code”, which relates to the organisation of groups that “threaten national security”. 

Then in September 2023, Joseph was completely “pardoned” and released.

Malihe, meanwhile, had been released earlier in 2023, reportedly due to the deteriorating health of her son, who was in hospital with leukaemia.

An X-ray shows the metal plates now fitted in Mina’s ankle.

Article18’s advocacy director, Mansour Borji, commented: “Article18 is shocked by the unjust sentence that was initially handed down to Mrs Khajavi for exercising her right to freedom of religion or belief. We are further appalled by the absurdity of the summons to serve that sentence, despite the serious physical harm that prison conditions can potentially cause her.

“We reiterate our call for the immediate and unconditional acquittal of Mrs Khajavi, who is sentenced to prison on account of her Christian faith. We also urge Iran to end the harassment of the Christian community and to respect the November 2021 Supreme Court ruling that ‘the promotion of Christianity and formation of a house-church is not criminalised in law’ and should not be deemed a threat to national security.”