A Christian Iranian pastor who was imprisoned for his faith has been released after first being arrested back in 2006.
According to ChristianNews.net, Pastor Behnam Irani who leads the 300-member Church of Iran in Karaj was initially targeted in 2006 while he was leading a Bible study. Then in 2010 he was arrested and accused of “action against the state” for his refusal to stop holding Bible studies.
In 2014, more charges were brought against Irani, including the serious charge of “spreading corruption on Earth” which carries the death penalty.
Later that year, however, the charges against Irani were reduced, but he continued to remain in prison and was interrogated for hours at a time and even tortured.
After so many years in prison, Irani has now been released to the joy of his family and supporters.
“Release International is delighted that Pastor Irani has finally been set free. We have been campaigning for this for years,” said CEO Paul Robinson in a statement.
“CSW welcomes Pastor Irani’s release from prison following his unjust arrest and conviction on false charges,” added Mervyn Thomas of Christian Solidarity Worldwide.
Despite the celebration of Irani’s release, Christian ministries say that the issue of religious freedom in Iran is still a serious one.
“We urge the international community to continue to press Iran to uphold its obligations to respect the right to freedom of religion or belief of every religious community within its borders. No one should suffer as Pastor Irani has done, simply for following their conscience and belief,” said Thomas.
Photo courtesy: Thinkstockphotos.com
Publication date: October 24, 2016