Persecution of Christians in Iran has been at its peak in recent days as Tehran continues its crackdown on Christianity in the country.
The morning of Sunday, July 22, 10 plain-clothes Iranian police officers raided the home of Pastor Yousef Nadarkhani in Iran’s northern city of Rasht, brutally attacking both him and his teenage son, Danial.
When Danial answered the door and started to call for his father, officers attacked him with an electroshock weapon, leaving him motionless. When Youcef came in, they attacked him with the same weapon and then beat him—despite the fact that Yousef, nor his son, “offered any resistance,” Article 18’s Kiaa Aalipour told World Watch Monitor.
Yousef, a convert from Islam, has been sentenced to ten years in a prison notorious for persecuting Christians. Pastor Nadarkhani was also sentenced to two extra years of “internal exile” for allegedly “promoting Zionist Christianity.”
He is now serving a 10-year sentence in Evin Prison (aka the “dark hole of evil”) in the capital city of Tehran, convicted of “acting against national security” by running house churches (the maximum sentence for the charge is supposed to be six years imprisonment). Reportedly, the 39-year-old pastor was held in quarantine in a ward known for its especially difficult and unhygienic conditions—where “prisoners of conscience” are often taken for “punishment purposes.”
Fellow convert and church leader Mohammadreza Omidi was also sentenced to 10 years, along with Yousef–as well as 80 lashes for drinking wine during communion. He is serving his 10-year sentence in Evin Prison while he awaits the outcome of his appeal against the impending beatings.
The pastors are among many Iranian Christians who in recent months have been arrested and imprisoned, typically on charges of “acting against national security.” In Iran (#10 on the World Watch List), being an Iranian and expressing your Christian faith—especially when that expression involves being part of a house church—is an inevitable invitation to arrest often followed by prison terms.
Iran ranks 9th on Christian support organization Open Doors 2019 World Watch list of the 50 countries where it is most difficult to be a Christian.