Coming on the heels of the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church (Nov. 8), Christian religious-freedom groups celebrated a victory yesterday in Iran. Marzieh Amirizadeh Esmaeilabad, 30, and Maryam Rustampoor, 27—two Iranian converts to Christianity—were freed after being imprisoned for 259 days.
Authorities raided the women's apartment, which contained "Christian literature," on March 5. The women were charged with anti-state activity, spreading Christianity, and apostasy (deserting one's faith), and were placed in Tehran's notorious Evin prison.
In Iran, apostasy alone is punishable by execution or life in prison. The country has been placed on several watch lists of places that repress religious freedom. Recently, Iran has come under fire for jailing believers following raids on churches and homes belonging to Christians.
While in custody, reports came that the two women endured "intense interrogations which have reportedly included sleep deprivation and other ...1