By BosNewsLife Middle East Service
TEHRAN, IRAN (BosNewsLife)-- Twelve Christians are to stand trial in Iran on Easter Sunday on charges including "crimes against the order", an activist assisting them with advocacy told BosNewsLife.
Jason DeMars, director of the Present Truth Ministries group, said Friday that the Christians are facing the court in the northeastern city of Rasht, though "they were earlier for the same 'crimes' last year in [the Caspian Sea city of] Bandar Anzali."
"This highlights once again, that it is illegal to be a Christian in Iran," De Mars said.
Among the Christians is Pastor Matthias Haghnejad and his wife Anahita Khadeimi, he explained. Others were identified as Mahmoud Khosh-Hal and his wife Hava Saadetmend, Amir Goldoust, Mina Goldoust, Zhaina Bahremand, Fatemah Modir-Nouri, Mehrdad Habibzade, Milad Radef, Behzad Taalipasand and Amin Pishkar.
It comes amid reports of mounting pressure on devoted Christians in Iran, including former Muslims, amid a rapidly growing house church movement in the Islamic nation.
There may be at least 100,000 evangelical Christians in Iran, according to conservative estimates, though some groups say that number is much higher.
Monday's trial is held not far from the prison where Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani faces possible execution for refusing to abandon his faith in Christ and return to Islam, according to court documents seen by BosNewsLife.
DeMars explained that his group has urged supporters to "pray for these believers as they stand trial" which was to begin early Sunday local time.
"We pray that God gives them courage to stand for their faith, to express themselves clearly and to bring him honor and glory. We also pray that he touches the heart of the judges to acquit these saints of these "crimes," DeMars told supporters receiving his electronic newsletters.
Iranian officials have consistently denied wrongdoing, saying they try to uphold the values of Islam and the laws of the land.