On Dec. 23, 2011, Iranian authorities raided the Assemblies of God church of Ahvaz as church members gathered for a service. Everyone at the church was arrested, including children. All those arrested were released several hours later, with the exception of the pastor, Farhad Sabokrouh, his wife, Shahnaz Jayzan, and two church ministers, Davoud Alijani and Naser Zamen-Dezfuli. The four were transferred to a detention center for further interrogation.
Shahnaz was released on temporary bail on Jan. 1, 2012, after spending nine days in prison. The pastor and the two men were held until Feb. 21, 2012, when they were also released on temporary bail. Granting prisoners release on temporary bail is a common tactic employed by the government in Iran. It allows the government to recall those previously arrested at any moment for more interrogation or to serve longer prison sentences. Those released on temporary bail live in constant fear of being called back to prison.
At his release, Pastor Farhad was denied the right to hold any kind of a church service or visit Christians in Ahvaz, his hometown. He was also banned from living in Ahvaz and forced to move to Tehran.
In October 2012, the four were each sentenced to serve a year in prison for the charges of “converting to Christianity, inviting Muslims to convert and acting against state security through evangelistic activities.”
On May 1, the court summoned the four. When they appeared, they were each arrested. Davoud Alijani was sent to Karoon prison in Ahvaz.
Pastor Farhad, Shahnaz and Naser were transferred to Sepidar prison.
Davoud Alijani Released
Davoud was released from Karoon prison on Jan. 13, after serving a one-year sentence for “converting to Christianity, inviting Muslims to convert and acting against state security through evangelistic activities.” In Dec. 2011, security agents raided the Assemblies of God Church during a Christmas service and arrested everyone present. Authorities detained Davoud, a church worker, and three others. He was released on bail on Feb. 21, 2012, but was later sentenced to one year in prison. He began serving the sentence in May 2013 and was given credit for time served before his release on bail.
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