Iranian Christians Sentenced to Prison for Bible Study

It’s been a long week for Christians all over the globe. We’ve run stories of persecution in China, Pakistan and Egypt, and now we have one from Iran. Two different stories, in fact, about Iranian oppression of Christians.

In Iran, a group of Christians were appealing their arrest and imprisonment by the Iranian government. On March 29, 2014 their prison sentences were upheld, and 6 of the 8 Christians were returned to prison. Another had already finished serving his time, and the last had already been released. What is the “crime” that this small group of believers committed? They attended a Bible Study and were charged with “action against the national security” and “propaganda against the order of the system.”

Mohammad Roghangir was sentenced to six years in prison, Massoud Rezai to five years; Mehdi Ameruni and Bijan Farokhpour Haghighi received three year sentences, Shahin Lahouti and Suroush Saraie received two and half years, and Eskandar Rezai and Roxana Forghi each received a one-year sentence.

Seven of these Christians were initially arrested on Oct. 12 2012 when security forces raided a prayer meeting, while the eighth, Massoud Rezai, was detained a day later.

IranPeresecuteImagine the uproar against our government if we arrested Muslim worshippers while they were attending daily prayers at the local mosque. The outcry would be deafening. The Islamic community around the world would be up in arms, and the nations of the world would rally together to denounce our intolerable cruelty.

And they would be right to condemn us.

But when the Islamic world unjustly arrests, imprisons, abuses, tortures and even kills our brothers and sisters in Christ… the world is strangely silent.

This group are not the only believers currently suffering at the hands of the Iranian government.

Another brother, Vahid Hakkani, also had his appeal denied in a separate case of Islamic injustice. Brother Hakkani’s crime was quite similar to the previous group – he attended a house church. For his “crime” he was sentenced to almost four years imprisonment.

Hakkani was part of a group of four converts who were sentenced by Branch 3 of the Revolutionary Court to three years and eight months imprisonment in June 2013. His charges were “attending house church services,” “promoting Christianity,” “propagating against the regime,” and “disturbing national security.”

What kind of monstrous government would arrest and imprison someone simply for their faith? Are these Christians plotting the overthrow of the government? No. Are these Christians organizing a terrorist movement? No. Are they threatening the very fabric of the culture within which they live? Maybe… but using that logic so too are the Muslims living in the United States, no?

But we would not crack down on peaceful believers of another faith. We have confidence that our beliefs and our values can stand the test of other faiths and other cultures pressing in on ours. Our culture. Our morality. Our faith are all strong enough to withstand the onslaught of other ideas… the people and governments of the Islamic world must not be so sure.

Share these stories. Remind the people around you that this is the truth of Islam. It is aggressive, violent, and it rules with an iron fist. We may tolerate its existence among us, but when we are not honest about the reality of Islam and the truth of what its practitioners believe, we do our children a disservice. We don’t need to be xenophobic or racist to tell the truth about what Islam does when it takes hold of a society – we only need to show them a newspaper.


The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by

About the author

Onan Coca

Onan is the Editor-in-Chief at Romulus Marketing and Bravera Holdings. He's also the managing editor at,, and the managing partner at You can read more of his writing at Eagle Rising.
Onan is a graduate of Liberty University (2003) and earned his M.Ed. at Western Governors University in 2012. Onan lives in Atlanta with his wife and their five wonderful children.

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