An Iranian Christian convert convicted of being a member of a “zionist” evangelical group has lost his appeal against two prison sentences he received earlier this year, according to a London-based Iranian human rights watchdog organization.
Ismaeil Maghrebinejad, a 65-year-old member of the Anglican Church, was informed last week that two of the three prison sentences he received earlier this year have been upheld while one has been overturned, Article 18 reports.
According to the watchdog group, Maghrebinejad was told last Sunday that the charge of insulting the sacred beliefs of Muslims had been overturned on appeal.
But last Wednesday, Maghrebinejad’s two sentences for “propaganda against the state” and “membership of a group hostile to the regime” were upheld.
Although the three sentences amounted to six years in prison, the nonprofit notes that Maghrebinejad will likely only serve a two-year sentence for “membership of a hostile group.”
Article18’s Mansour Borji said in a statement that it’s striking that the Iranian government accused an Anglican pastor of membership in a group hostile to the state.
#Iranian #Christian #convert Ismaeil Maghrebinejad, 65, has lost his #appeal against the two remaining #prison sentences issued to him earlier this year. His final hope is another #retrial, but even that won’t prevent him being summoned to prison any day. https://t.co/RJ2bQlLdyS— Article 18 (@articleeighteen) July 16, 2020
As the Islamic Republic ranks as one of the worst country’s in the world for Christian persecution, Borji said that “such blanket labeling is inaccurately applied to any Christian arrested for their religious activities, as the revolutionary courts try to justify their violations of religious freedom Christian Post reports”
Maghrebinejad was arrested at his home in January 2019. He was sentenced in January 2020 by a civil court in Shiraz to three years in prison under Article 513 of the Islamic penal code for insulting religious beliefs.
In February, he was sentenced to an additional two years in prison for “membership of a group hostile to the regime” under Article 499 of the penal code.
Although the Iranian government insists that it offers religious freedom, persecution watchdog groups and human rights agencies have said the Islamic regime is very hostile toward minorities, including Christians, Baha’is, and others.
Iran ranks 9th on Christian support organization Open Doors 2020 World Watch list of the 50 countries where it is most difficult to be a Christian.