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Pastor’s wife Shahnaz Jizan released from prison

Pastor’s wife Shahnaz Jizan released from prison

Shahnaz Jizan, the wife of Ahvaz Assemblies of God Church pastor Farhad Sabok Rouh, was released from prison today. 

The couple were first detained during a Christmas celebration at their church in December 2011, when every member of the church was arrested.

Most were released after interrogations and threats to have no further participation in Christian activities, but the pastor and his wife, as well as church members Nasser Zamen-Dezfuli and Davoud Alijani, were detained.

They were released on bail a few months later, but in October 2012 they were each sentenced to one year in prison, under Article 500 of the Islamic Penal Code, for “a tendency towards Christianity, inviting Muslims to convert, and propaganda activities against the system through the propagation of evangelical Christianity”.

According to Article 500 of the Islamic Penal Code, “Anyone who engages in any type of propaganda against the Islamic Republic of Iran, or in support of opposition groups and associations, shall be sentenced to three months to one year of imprisonment.”

The verdict was pronounced by Judge Seyyed Mohammad Bagher Mousavi at Branch 2 of the Ahvaz Revolutionary Court. The four Christians lost their appeals and were taken to prison in May 2013 to begin their sentences.

Shahnaz is the last of the four to be released from prison, after nearly a year.

Her husband, Farhad, and Nasser were released in December, after both had spent 214 days in Sepidar Prison. Davoud was released a month later after spending 257 days in Karoun Prison.

But the couple’s Ahvaz church was shut down following the arrests, one of a significant number of churches that have fallen victim to the Iranian government’s security crackdown on Persian-speaking Christians in recent years.