In January 2019, Ismaeil Maghrebinejad, 65, was arrested and has since faced multiple charges and convictions, which he has appealed. Originally convicted of "membership of a group hostile to the regime" and "insulting Islamic sacred beliefs," he was further convicted of "propaganda against the state" in May 2020 (read more).
On July 5th, an appeal court overturned the three-year sentence for "insulting Islamic sacred beliefs." The charge came about due to someone else's social media joke, to which Ismaeil merely responded with a smiley face emoji. The judge ruled that since the accused was not the originator of the joke, he should not be convicted.
The appeal of the other two convictions were decided on July 15th. In this most recent case, the judge rejected both appeals. As a result, Ismaeil must serve two years in prison for "membership of a hostile group." The sentence for propaganda against the state was reduced; however, since that was a shorter concurrent sentence, it doesn't make any difference to the length of his prison term. For more on the persecution of Christians in Iran, go to our country report.
Continue to uphold Ismaeil in your prayers, along with the members of his concerned family, as they now face a two-year period of separation from one another. May the Lord sustain them with renewed hope, peace and strength -- having the assurance that He is ultimately working through this difficult situation to bring about His greater plans in each of their lives and for the salvation of others. As Ismaeil waits on God for deliverance, may he experience continued health and strength -- physically, emotionally, mentally, as well as spiritually -- seizing every opportunity made available to him to be a vibrant Christian witness to fellow prisoners and prison workers.