A court in Ahvaz, Iran granted the two Christian converts conditional release on a heavy bail of 1 Billion Tomans (Approximately $100,000 USD). Despite the financial hardships the majority of Iranians face these days under international sanctions the family of these Christian converts provided the bail, but every time they go to the court to submit the bail to release their loved ones, court officials tell them “the judge is not in today”!
Left. Shokoufeh , Right. Shima
Mohabat News — According to sources close to this case, two Christian converts by the names of Shima and Shokoufeh Zanganeh (sisters) who were arrested more than two weeks ago have been subject to physical torture in a prison in Ahvaz.
The two sisters were arrested on December 2, 2018 around noon time in their homes by Iranian Intelligence Service officials.
The report coming from Ahvaz indicates about 13 plain-clothed security officials raided their homes and thoroughly searched all around the property, seizing their Bibles, gospel tracts, and notes taken from Christian teachings. Both Shima and Shokoufeh were then transferred to an unknown location.
Ahvaz is a city in the southwest of Iran and the capital of Khuzestan
At the same time, another group of security officers raided their parents’ house and searched there as well.
The Zanganeh family made multiple inquiries from local authorities to find out the whereabouts of their daughters. They were eventually referred to the Intelligence Service Office in Ahvaz, but officials in the office told them they had no information about the sisters.
After a few days of uncertainty, Shima called her family and let them know they are both being held in the Amanieh Intelligence Office in Ahvaz.
Eventually, on Wednesday, December 12, 2018 the Zanganeh sisters’ case was sent to branch 12 of the Revolutionary Court in Ahvaz. After appearing in court, both Christian converts were transferred to Ahvaz Sepidar prison.
When the two sisters appeared in court their young judge granted them conditional release on a heavy bail of 500 Million tomans (approximately $50,000 USD) for each, for a total of 1 Billion tomans.
Despite the financial hardships the majority of Iranians face these days under international sanctions the family of these Christian converts provided the bail, but every time they went to the court to submit the bail to release their loved ones, the court officials told them “the judge is not in today”. There are suspicions the Iranian authorities are delaying their release to give time for the marks of their beating on the two sisters to heal before they are released conditionally.
Prison authorities contacted the Zanganeh family to let them know the two Christian sisters were beaten during one of the interrogation sessions. Later, in another phone call the sisters themselves confirmed they were beaten by their interrogator.
Pressure on Iranian Christians, especially those with an Islamic background has escalated in the last few weeks leading up to Christmas. There are various reports about the number of Christians arrested in recent weeks. Some reports state more than 100 Christians have been arrested across the country.
Even though the Islamic regime of Iran officially recognizes Christians as a religious minority group in its constitution, Christians who share their faith or Muslims who convert to Christianity are prosecuted.
Punishing conversion to Christianity and pressuring Christian communities, especially at times of the year significant to Christians, such as Christmas, has not been effective in deterring Iranians from turning to Christianity. Many of the growing number of Iranians who turn away from Islam convert to Christianity.
Many International Rights groups such as Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have condemned Iran’s mistreatment of Christians as well as other religious minorities.
Some analytical reports of the effects of the U.S. sanctions on Iranian Christians claim the situation of Christians has worsened as a result of these sanctions. It seems the Iranian judicial system sees Christians as a soft target to extort money through heavy bails as the Islamic government looks for new ways to replenish its income lost through sanctions.
Iran’s Islamic regime and especially its leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, see Christians as a threat to their power while Christians are usually among the most law-abiding citizens. However, being seen as a threat to the political power, Iranian Christians face an increasing level of persecution. This is even worse for Christian converts with an Islamic background who gather in their own homes for worship./ Persian