Iran's Cyberpolice Continues Crackdown On Christians After Blogger's Death

 

By BosNewsLife Middle East Service

Sattar Beheshti died in custody.


TEHRAN, IRAN (BosNewsLife)-- Forces of Iran's cyberpolice in charge of controlling the Internet have raided the home of a Christian convert who evangelized through social networking websites, including Facebook, and also detained two fellow believers, Iranian Christians revealed Friday,November 16, just days after another Iranian blogger died in police custody.

Alireza Ebrahimi, who became a Christian three years ago and became known as a cyber evangelist, was not at home during the recent raid in Gorgan city, some 400 kilometers (250 miles) north east of capital Tehran, reported Iranian Christian news service Mohabat News.

His home was also twice raided in May when security forces confiscated his personal belongings including a laptop, articles, notes and books related to Christianity, Iranian Christians said.

However two other Christians, identified as Saeed Mirzaei and Sadegh Mirzaei, were reportedly detained in separate rates in the area on charges of "propagating against Islam" and "actions against national security."

Since late May nothing has been heard from them, according to well-informed Christians.

SEARCHING CYBERPOLICE

Christians say the cyberpolice continues searching for Ebrahimi, who is in hiding at an undisclosed location.

News about the reported crackdown came shortly after Iranian opposition website Kaleme reported that 41 prisoners at Iran's feared Evin prison said in signed testimony that they saw blogger Sattar Beheshti after he had been tortured at a police station.

Beheshti, 35, died earlier this month while in custody of Iranian officials.

The report quotes eyewitnesses as saying Beheshti told them he had been severely beaten, hanged by his wrists from the ceiling, pushed to the ground and kicked in the head, and also repeatedly threatened to be killed.

Eyewitnesses added that his head was swollen, parts of his body bruised and effects of hanging were apparent on his wrists, according to the Voice of America network, which monitored the report.

US CONCERNED

The United States State Department has demanded Iranian authorities investigate the apparent murder of Sattar Beheshti, who was known to be critical towards the regime in is writings.

Ahmadreza Radan, deputy commander of the Iranian police, expressed his sorrow over Sattar Beheshti's death, media reported.

Mohabat News suggested that Iran's cyberpolice has extended its crackdown to Christian websites as well. Commander Seyyed Kamal Hadiyanfar reportedly said that his unit "will definitely deal with anti-religion websites and blogs and those who are after creating riots on cyberspace ."

Any group, he explained, "who targets people's lives or wealth or is using cyberspace to interrupt religious relations and create division among religions will be dealt with."

There are at least 100,000 evangelical Christians in Iran, despite the reported crackdown, according to church groups.

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