IRAN RELEASES TWO CHRISTIAN WOMEN FROM EVIN PRISON

No bail required; charges of ‘proselytizing’ and ‘apostasy’ remain.

INTO THE FIRE by The Nomadic Farmers

ISTANBUL, November 18 (CDN) — Two Christian Iranian women, Maryam Rostampour, 27, and Marzieh Amirizadeh Esmaeilabad, 30, were released from prison this afternoon with no bail amid an international campaign calling for their freedom since their arrest on March 5.

Maryam Rostampour and Marzieh Amirizadeh Esmaeilabad

The two women, whose health deteriorated while in detention at the notorious Evin prison in Tehran, are at their homes recovering from their nine-month ordeal, an Iranian source told Compass. They still could face charges of proselytizing and “apostasy,” or leaving Islam.

The women were released at 3:30 p.m.

“Words are not enough to express our gratitude to the Lord and to His people who have prayed and worked for our release,” the two women said in a statement from United Kingdom-based Elam Ministries.

The women’s lawyer had been working to secure their release, and although they were expected to be released yesterday, he was not able to do so because of the high bail the court was demanding. The Compass source said that it was too soon to determine how the lawyer was able to secure their release without bail today, a rarity for Christians released from prison in Iran.

The source credited their release to international lobbying and pressure on the Iranian government.

“It was from the international pressure, and also the government couldn’t handle it anymore,” said the source. “Already their detention was illegal. At the same time, the government wasn’t ready to prosecute them for apostasy. They already have many headaches. They cannot handle everything.”

The source said he suspected the two women will be very closely watched and would not have full freedom of movement, limiting their contact with others.

Rostampour and Esmaeilabad were arrested in March and detained on charges of “acting against state security,” “taking part in illegal gatherings” and apostasy under Iran’s Revolutionary Court system.

On Aug. 9 the women appeared before a judge who pressured them to recant their faith and return to Islam or spend more time in prison. The two women refused. Last month, on Oct. 7, they were acquitted of the charge of “anti-state activities,” and their case was transferred to the General Court.

With a draft penal code that may include an article mandating death for apostates in accordance to sharia (Islamic law) still under parliamentary review, experts on Iran fear things may get worse for the country’s converts from Islam.

Elam reported that the women were “doing as well as could be expected, and are rejoicing in the Lord’s faithfulness to them.” The women reportedly lost a lot of weight during their imprisonment. Esmaeilabad suffered from back pain, an infected tooth and intense headaches, and Rostampour got severe food poisoning last month.

“Maryam and Marzieh have greatly inspired us all,” Director of Elam Ministries Sam Yeghnazar said today in a press statement. “Their love for the Lord Jesus and their faithfulness to God has been an amazing testimony.”

Compass has also learned that on Oct. 13 the leader of a large network of churches in the northern city of Rasht was arrested and is still in prison. Pastor Yousef Nadarkhani has had contact with his family and has been pressured to recant his faith and return to Islam, according to an Iranian Christian who requested anonymity. Nadarkhani is married and has two children under the age of 10.


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Posted on November 18, 2009, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. I don’t understand why we pass judgement on a brother suffering persecution……

    i pray in agreement for the hearts and minds also in Iran , that they would be awakened to the Gospel of our Lord and saviour Jesus !

  2. I agree with you Shalameth. we need not pass judgement on anyone, we need to practice empathy and pray for Yousef.
    The more converts, the more pressure on the secular portion of the Iranian government to stop this prosecution of converts.
    I pray that God will continue working in the hearts and minds of those in Iran. I also pray for workers to find creative ways to move into the Iranian culture to share the love of Jesus with those who don’t know Him for who He really is.

  3. May all readers of this post remember Maryam and Marzieh in their devotions.
    Also, please no judgment passing for this Pastor Yousef. God knows his heart.
    May we pray along with his family, as he endures persecution in prison away from them.

    Shalameth

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