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Iran’s House Churches Are Not Illegal, Says Supreme Court Justice (Updated)

Image: Courtesy of Article 18

Update: The 9 converts to Christianity made eligible for release by November’s Supreme Court ruling remain in prison for their faith, according to Mansour Borji, advocacy director for Article 18. The judge had ruled that promotion of Christianity through house churches is not illegal.

But another case is contributing to the establishment of precedent.

A revolutionary court prosecutor in the city of Dezful, 450 miles southwest of Tehran, declined to bring charges against eight converts to Christianity. Four were arrested in April, with four others later added to the case.

Hojjat Khalaf, Esmaeil Narimanpour, Alireza Varak-Shah, Mohammad Ali Torabi, Alireza Zadeh, Masoud Nabi, Mohammad Kayidgap, and Mohsen Zadeh were facing criminal accusations for “propaganda against the Islamic Republic of Iran.”

The judge provided a written explanation on November 30. According to Middle East Concern, he stated that although apostasy is a crime according to Islamic sharia, it is not an offense according to the laws of Iran. Borji said the decision was unrelated to the recent Supreme Court ruling (below), as this case had not yet even made it to court.

“The prosecutor was simply not convinced with made up charges by intelligence officers with no shred of evidence,” he said. “But his reasoning is very important.”

This update was added by Christianity Today on December 21, 2021, for an article originally published on December 3. Please click here to read the full text.

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