Iran (MNN) — Pressure builds in Iran as the regime implements severe new restrictions and looks to add more. “Pray for us,” Reza* of Global Catalytic Ministries requests.
“It’s going to be another season of persecution, and I have a feeling it’s going to be the worst we’ve seen inside of Iran.”
Last month, a judge gave three Christians from a Muslim background the maximum prison sentence under a newly-amended law. Eight believers were summoned to court last week under similar charges.
In June, “they gave the Christians the maximum sentence – which is five years – not the minimum… maybe [authorities will] let them out after two or three years, but right now, it’s a great fear technique,” Reza says.
“If you get caught, and you get arrested for breaking this law, they’re going to ‘throw the book at you.’”
See our full Iran coverage here.
Persecution is legal in Iran
Iranian judges routinely use Article 499 and Article 500 of the Islamic Penal Code to persecute believers from a Muslim background. Controversial amendments passed in February mean “anything that’s against Sharia law, you can be arrested for now; that’s a very broad net,” Reza says.
“The new law went into effect with the last president, but it was never enforced. This new president wants to enforce it.”
The amendments leave plenty of room for interpretation, which can be extremely dangerous for believers facing a hardline Islamic judge. “The problem with this law is now they are arresting Christians when they have Christian resources in their house,” Reza says.
“Before, the Iranian government would never arrest you for having Christian items because you can always say, ‘The Old Testament and the New Testament are holy books, and I’m just reading them because the Koran says to read them.’ Now, they’re not even letting you read them for understanding more of the Koran, or [for] researching.”
Another new bill threatens to make the death penalty an option for Christian activity. Ask the Lord to give Iranian believers His supernatural strength and courage. “Pray for us because we want to be used by God. We don’t want to be intimidated by the enemy,” Reza says.
“We don’t want to live in fear; we want to live in faith.”
Header image is a representative stock photo courtesy of Bill Oxford/Unsplash.