Iranian Christians to go on trial

Five members of the Church of Iran are to go on trial next week on charges of disturbing public order, Christian Solidarity Worldwide has learned.

The trial will be held on Sunday at the Revolutionary Court in Shiraz, Fars Province. The Christians have been detained since October last year. They are Mohammad Roghangir, Surush Saraie, Eskandar Rezaie, Shahin Lahooti and Massoud Rezaie.

Charges against the five men also extend to evangelising, action against national security and an internet activity against the system.

Iranian media outlet Mohabat News reports that another group of four Iranian Christians are currently on trial for participating in house church services, evangelising and promoting Christianity, having contact with foreign Christian ministries, distributing propaganda against the regime, and disturbing national security.

Mojtaba Seyyed-Alaedin Hossein, Mohammad-Reza Partoei, Vahid Hakkani, and Homayoun Shokouhi were arrested on 8 February, also during a house church gathering.

They are being tried in Branch 3 of the Revolutionary Court in Shiraz.

CSW's Advocacy Director Andrew Johnston called upon Iran to respect freedom of religion and belief.

"Once again Iranian Christians face charges couched in political terms that in reality stem from their choice of faith and desire to exercise the right to worship in community with others, as guaranteed in article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), to which Iran is party," he said.

"Furthermore, the men from the Church of Iran face an additional accusation of allegedly indulging in subversive internet activity, despite having been arrested at a prayer gathering."

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