Iranian pastor freed from prison

AP
Christians account for less than one per cent of the population of Iran

A pastor at the Assemblies of God Church of Ahwaz, imprisoned for his faith in Iran has been released.

 According to a story by Mohabat News, Davoud Alijani (also known as David), was released from Karoon Prison on Jan. 13, after spending 257 days locked up.

He was released with 20 days remaining on his original prison term.

Security authorities had raided a Christmas celebration on December 23, 2011, and arrested Alijani and a number of other members of the Ahwaz Assemblies of God church.

Those arrested were threatened, interrogated, and had their personal information and addresses recorded. Everyone except Pastor Farhad Sabokrouh, his wife Shahnaz Jayzan, and two church ministers, Naser Zamen-Dezfuli and Alijani, were released after a few hours.

Mohabat News said the four detainees were charged with converting from Islam to Christianity (apostasy), proselytizing Muslims, and working against the Islamic regime through evangelism.

Based on these accusations, the Revolutionary Court of Ahwaz sentenced the four to one year in prison.

Mohabat News said Sabokrouh and Zamen-Dezfuli were released on December 4, 2013 , after spending 214 days in prison, while Sabokrouh's wife, Shahnaz Jayzan is still in prison. However, unconfirmed reports indicate that she will be released in the next several days.

The raid on the church was a shock to the Iranian Christian community, since the Assemblies of God Church of Ahwaz is a registered church and operates under the supervision of security authorities.

Mohabat News commented, "This is also an indication of the arbitrary oppression of Christians by the Islamic regime of Iran."

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