Ebrahim Firouzi sentenced to jail and exile

Ebrahim Firouzi sentenced to jail and exile

Ebrahim Firouzi, a Christian convert and prisoner of conscience, has been sentenced to one year in prison followed by two years in exile in the far-southeastern city of Sarbaz, in Sistan and Baluchestan province.

Ebrahim was arrested on 7 March, and released on bail from Evin Prison 53 days later – on 29 April.

On 13 July, he was sentenced on charges of “propaganda against the regime by establishing and organising Christian gatherings” and “having contacts with foreign anti-revolutionary networks”.

Ebrahim, who has been arrested several times before on charges of Christian propaganda and evangelism, had previously been given a suspended five-month jail sentence, which will be added to his term of imprisonment.

“The court’s decision is that the actions and activities carried out by the accused against the Islamic Republic of Iran have been identified and, therefore, according to Article 500 of the Islamic Penal Code, the court condemns him to one year’s imprisonment, including time already spent in detention,” ruled Judge Hassan Babaei of the Revolutionary Court of Robat Karim.

Judge Babaei said “the establishment of a Christian propaganda site and house-church” were evidence of Ebrahim’s actions against the Islamic Republic.

“Such actions,” he said, “are used by opponents of the regime to take action against the Islamic system. Because holding such meetings is basically to promote licentiousness among the youth; and to create suspicion in the principles of Islam is one of the basic policies of the criminal activities of this group. Certainly, the people who hold meetings or lead the group in such deviant groups cannot be considered as people who are respected in Article 13 of the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran [which recognises Christians as a protected religious minority].”

In recent years, as a result of increasing international pressure on Iran for violations of freedom of opinion and religion, security-related charges, such as “acts against national security” and “propaganda against the state”, have become more widely used against prisoners of conscience.

Ahmed Shaheed, UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Iran, expressed deep concern about the situation of religious minorities in his March report, referring to “discrimination in law and practice”. 

“A number of interviewees maintained that they were repeatedly interrogated about their religious beliefs, and a majority of interviewees reported being charged with national security crimes and/or propaganda against the state for religious activities,” he said.

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