Landmark Ruling: Iranian Christian Leaders Acquitted and Released from Prison, Highlighting Struggles for Religious Freedom

Iranian authorities released two Christian leaders from prison after a judge ruled that participating in a home church was not illegal. The judge’s decision overturned a 2020 conviction, stating that belonging to or participating in a home group with people of the same faith was considered “natural” and not a criminal activity. The couple, Homayoun Zhaveh and Sara Ahmadi, who had converted from Islam, were acquitted and released after serving nine months of their sentences. The initial conviction and subsequent reduction of their sentences highlighted the abuse of legal precepts to criminalize peaceful activities. Despite the crackdown on house churches in Iran, the underground church movement has experienced remarkable growth. Converts from Islam face religious freedom violations, as the government perceives them as a threat to the Islamic regime. Arrests, prosecutions, and lengthy prison sentences have been imposed on Christian leaders and supporters under the guise of “crimes against national security.”

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