Christian pastor Farshid Fathi has been released after five years in an Iranian jail, having been falsely sentenced for crimes against national security. He was converted from Islam as a teenager and went on to lead a network of house churches in Iran.
Although there is a growing underground movement of churches in Iran, Christians who meet to worship or share their faith can find themselves accused of ‘undermining national security’.
According to Release International, Pastor Farshid was kept in solitary confinement for almost a year, even though his family had paid a high figure for his bail. He was sentenced in March 2012 and moved to a prison cell with violent prisoners and drug addicts.
Charges included having Bibles printed in Farsi, unlawfully distributing Bibles, and possessing Christian literature.
Farshid, who is in his 30s, is married to Leila. They have two young children. In 2013 his family emigrated to Canada. Paul Robinson, Release chief executive, said, ‘We want to thank our supporters around the world for praying for him. However, up to 100 other Christians remain behind bars in Iran, simply for being Christians. Please keep praying for a change of heart in Iran towards its Christian citizens’.