Iran Detains Dozen Christians In Major City

By BosNewsLife Middle East Service

Iran President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and his administration has been accussed of crackdown on Christians.
Iran President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and his authorities have been accussed of crackdown on Christians.


TEHRAN, IRAN (BosNewsLife)-- At least a dozen devoted Christians from Iran's third largest city remained in jail Saturday, March 17,  as part of an attempt by authorities to discourage Muslims and Christian converts to attend church services, Iranian Christians said.

Mohabat News, a news agency of Iranian Christians and activists, said security forces began a new crackdown last month in Isfahan, 340 kilometers (211 miles) south of the capital Tehran.

The agency said security forces detained both leaders and members of churches meeting in buildings, as well as some from underground house churches.

Among the latest known Christian converts detained in the Isfahan area is Fariborz Parsi-nejad, a Christian convert, who was reportedly taken into custody on March 2 while returning home from his work.

"Security authorities raided his home and seized him without explanation," Iranian Christians said.

CHRISTIANS TAKEN

The crackdown began February 22 when security forces allegedly took at least eight Christians from their homes and work places.

Most of those jailed are members of the St. Paul Anglican church in Isfahan, Christians said. Mohabat News added that among those imprisoned at local prison facilities is Hekmat Salimi, pastor of St. Paul Anglican Church, who converted 30 years ago and authored theological books and Giti Hakimpour, 78, a female pastor at the same church.

Other church members include Shahram Ghaedi, an actor, Maryam Del-Aram, 54, Shahnaz Zarifi, a mother of two and Enayat Jafari, according to rights investigators.

Another Christian, Majid Enayat, was also detained on February 22 at his workplace. He is a member of a house church, and Mohabat reported that prior to his arrest, authorities detained other members of his group.

In a separate February 22 incident Iranian intelligence officers, initially introducing themselves as representatives of the regional electricity company, raided the Isfhahan home of Christian Enayat Jafari, seizing personal belongings, including a laptop, phone cards, books, compact disks and even children's
cartoons, Mohabat News said.

FAMILY "FREIGHTENED

"Mr. Jafari's wife and three year old child were frightened by this sudden invasion and by the officer's treatment. They also threatened to arrest his wife if she didn't cooperate with them," the agency commented, citing local Christians.

His wife was so far only allowed one brief prison visit, Iranian Christians said, adding that his his "three year old child greatly misses his father."

Several other non-identified believers are also being held in Isfahan, raising the number held in the Isfahan region at least 12, local believers said.

Amid mounting concerns, Mohabat said authorities released Hakimpour on February 25 because of her age and recent knee replacement surgery. However authorities have denied proper medical treatment to fellow Christian Del-Aram, as her daughter not allowed to bring medication she needs to her prison, it added.

MORE INCIDENTS

Isfahan is no isolated incident, with at least dozens of Christians believed to be detained across Iran.

"Today, the regime of Iran crackdowns on Christians, especially Christian converts, for it is observing the growth of Christianity like never before," said activist and Mohabat News director Saman Kamvar. "This fact has made them concerned," he explained.

He said that while in the past years "underground or house churches were the main targets" gradually authorities also included, more openly operating, evangelical churches. "Evangelical churches don't believe that Christianity only belongs to a certain sect or nationality and so everyone is allowed to attend their
services."

As the language and Bibles used in those churches are mostly in the Farsi language, "all people groups including Assyrians, Armenians, Kurds, Turks, Lors, Balochs, etc. attend their services."

He also cited the Assemblies of God church in the capital Tehran which was recently forced to cancel its Friday church services.

IRANIAN AUTHORITIES

Iranian authorities have consistently denied wrongdoing but have acknowledged they are concerned about the spread of Christianity, with church groups claiming at least 100,000 devoted believers in the Islamic nation.

Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei last year especially condemned the growing house churches.

Some, including house church Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani, face execution because of their refusal to abandon their faith in Christ and return to Islam, court documents show.

Additionally, thousands of Bibles designated for local Christians are known to have been confiscated and destroyed by authorities, according to Iranian Christians familiar with the situation.

5 thoughts on “Iran Detains Dozen Christians In Major City

  1. Where are the Western secularists? I think they simply cannot conceive of Christians anywhere being victims. And I think they dislike Christianity enough that they don’t want to know. As for the church in the west, we know and we care deeply about this issue but except for supporting ministries like Voice of the Martyrs, we don’t know what else to do. We know our secular media and government don’t care and we really don’t know what to do about that.

  2. As a secularist, I am of course outraged. Religious belief part of freedom of thought and of expression and is a basic human right and that is why no country should be a ‘Christian country’ or a ‘Muslim country’.

    Thomas Jefferson’s ‘wall of separation’ between church and state, written into the US constitution is the biggest guarantee of religious freedom. Although I do not advocate in favour of any religion, I would love to see a synagogue opened in Mecca and a Hindu temple or Christian church in Qom.

  3. I’m waiting for Obama or Clinton to comment on this any hour now.

    But maybe they’re watching March Madness instead…

  4. Where are the secularists in the west on this? Why no outrage? Also, where is the western Christian church, the Jews in an expression of moral and political outrage? Islam is a toxin of intolerance, hate, violence, deprivation…as Churchill accurately stated: Islam is the “world’s most retrograde force.” No wonder Hitler and the Nazis admirted it so much.

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