Christians in Iraq request prayer for a convert from Islam serving a six-month prison sentence for blasphemy.
Jagarkhuin Abdulrahman Ismael, known as ‘Jagar’, was found guilty on 29 March of misusing a telecommunication device, according to a Kurdistan Region (KRI) law that criminalises the “… threatening, defamation or insulting …” of others.
It is believed the prosecutor was encouraged to charge Jagar under this law, instead of the blasphemy law, to ensure a harsher sentence.
His church had difficulty finding him a lawyer due to rising Islamic sentiment in the KRI.
Jagar, 38 years old and married, became a Christian in 2018, was baptised and attends the Anabaptist church in Duhok. In October 2022 he was summoned to court because of social media posts deemed insulting to Islam. He was given a verbal warning and released. In early November 2022, he was summoned again, informed of the blasphemy charge and detained. He was later released on bail.
The case coincided with – and is related to – the case of Bishop Bahzad Mziri, the regional leader of the Anabaptist church, who was also charged with blasphemy in the same period. The two cases were widely publicised online, spurring incitement of hate against Christians.
Jagar’s lawyer has filed an appeal that is yet to be considered.