The high court in Tehran, Iran is reviewing the five-year sentences given to nine Christians arrested in 2019, a move that is seen as an important legal precedent, reports the advocacy group International Christian Concern.
The Supreme Court judges announced Nov. 3 that they did not consider proselytizing or establishing a home church to be illegal activities, the report states. The court is reviewing the sentences of Behnam Akhlaghi, Babak Hosseinzadeh, Mehdi Khatibi, Hossein Kadivar, Khalil Dehghanpour, Mohammad Vafadar, Shahrouz Eslamdoust, Kamal Naamanian and Sayyed Addolreza Ali (Matthias) Haghnejad.
The nine were arrested and convicted of “endangering state security” and “promoting Zionism.” Their sentences were given in September 2019 and upheld in February 2020, the report says.
The court review is seen as an important precedent for Iranian Christians who have been charged or imprisoned. The report says Iranian Christians may find encouragement in the boldness of the Supreme Court judges to reject long-standing practices for prosecuting Christians.
Iran is No. 8 on Open Doors’ 2021 World Watch List of places most difficult to be a Christian.