Pressure on Iran builds; calls increase for Christian women’s release

By November 13, 2009

Iran (MNN) — Iran's nuclear games have the global
spotlight focused on them once more. That is actually good news for imprisoned Christians facing apostasy
charges. Case in point: Maryam
Rustampoor (mar-ee-yam roos-tam-poor) and Marzieh Amirizadeh (mar-jzeh
ah-mur-ih-jza-deh) remain behind bars at Tehran's notorious Evin prison for seven months after their arrests,
but they're still alive.

According
to Open Doors USA, on Oct. 26 the U.S. State Department designated Iran, along
with seven other countries, as "Countries of Particular Concern" because of their
religious repression.

The
Islamic Republic reportedly imprisoned, harassed and intimidated people based
on their religious beliefs, while government-controlled broadcast and print
media intensified negative campaigns against religious minorities, the report
said. Iran is ranked No. 3 on Open Doors' World Watch List of countries in which
Christians suffer the most severe persecution.

Carl
Moeller with Open Doors says, "This is a highly problematic case for them because if they
treat these women inhumanely and the world watches, the whole world will call
Iran for what it is–a horrible regime. If they let them go, or in some way are
seen internally as being soft on this, they're going to face a domestic
backlash. So it's really a difficult situation." 

Both women face charges of propagation
of the Christian faith and apostasy in Iran.

They've been in solitary confinement
and are now held in an overcrowded cell with more than 20 women. If
convicted, they could be sentenced to life in prison. 

Continue to pray for Maryam and Marzieh as they are now
back in prison, awaiting their next hearing. Pray for their health as they have
been denied proper medical treatment apart from care Maryam received for severe
food poisoning. Pray that they will continue to shine the light of Christ among
their fellow prisoners. Pray that all charges will be dropped and that they
will be released soon.

Moeller says now is the time to call for the release of these women. "If people don't know that
others are praying for them, they think that they're going through this all
alone, and that's really quite dangerous. 
That's why we try to take up the cause as much as possible to let
people know."

In the face of great pressure to recant
their faith, both women have declared they will not deny their Christianity.

Ironically, the harder the regime clamps down, the faster
the church grows. You can help. The how and why are on our Web site.

The
Open Doors USA advocacy department is launching a campaign asking people to send
a respectful message to Iranian Ambassador Mohammad Khazaee, who is Iran's
permanent representative to the United Nations in New York City. The
e-mail messages will be sent to the government in Iran as well. The
letters will ask for the immediate release of Maryam and Marzieh.

A
sample email letter to send is located at the Open Doors USA Web site at www.OpenDoorsUSA.org. Please do not refer to Open Doors in
your e-mail.

 

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