Originally published by Middle East Concern
Friends and family of Iranian Christian convert Ismaeil Maghrebinejad are requesting prayer after a disappointing decision following a May 9 retrial.
On February 27, Ismaeil had been sentenced to two years in prison for “membership of a group hostile to the regime”. He had received a Bible verse from a Christian media organisation. According to a court document, the group teaches “Evangelical Zionist Christianity”, which is not tolerated in Iran.
The judge had requested the retrial, which raised hopes the injustice would be addressed. Instead of acquitting Ismaeil or reducing the sentence, not only was the previous sentence upheld, but Ismaeil was given an additional year in prison for “propaganda against the state”.
Ismaeil’s lawyer pointed out that receiving a message from an organisation does not constitute membership, even in one considered “hostile to the regime”. He said the court had not been presented “with one single reason, piece of evidence or document that would justify the verdict”.
These two sentences are in addition to another three-year sentence for “insulting Islamic sacred beliefs” following a hearing in the civil court on January 8. That conviction was based on a “smiley face” that Ismaeil had used to respond to a joke deemed critical of the clergy.
Ismaeil was arrested with unnecessary force in January 2019 and his house searched to try to find evidence that could be used against him.
Ismaeil is appealing all three convictions.