Iran Christians Concerned About Detained Pastor

By Joseph DeCaro, BosNewsLife Special Correspondent

TEHRAN, IRAN (BosNewsLife)-- There were concerns Sunday, February 6, about a house church pastor in Iran who was among a group of Christians detained on Christmas Eve, Iranian Christians said.

Pastor Noorollah Qabitizade was one of some 10 Christians who were arrested in the city of Dezful, where they planned to worship on Christmas Eve, said Mohabat News, an Iranian Christian news agency.

Secret police reportedly took cell phones and other personal belongings such as Bibles and Christmas gifts during the raid on the house church.

Pastor Qabitizade's fellow Christians were released after being finger-printed, although they were told to report to the office of Ministry of Information in their home towns the very next morning, Iranian Christians said.

PASTOR DETAINED

The pastor however still remains in custody, more than a month after the arrests, with no contact to the outside world, Mohabat News reported.

He was last seen hand-cuffed and blind-folded en route to a detention facility, Christians said. The latest wave of arrests are seen by church groups as part of a wider government crackdown on Christianity in the strict Islamic state.

Several house churches are known to have have been raided in recent months and Christians, many of them former Muslims, are known to be held in several prisons.  Authorities have denied wrongdoing, but say they uphold the law.

Under Iran's strict interpretation of Islamic law, apostasy, or abandoning Islam, can be punished by execution.

It was not immediately clear what, if any charges, have been filed against the pastor.

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