Published: 16:00 GMT Daylight Time - Tuesday 23 August 2011
Iran seizes thousands of Bibles in bid to stop conversions to Christianity
Country/Region: Iran, Middle East and North Africa
Iranian authorities have seized 6,500 Bibles in their latest efforts to block the spread of the Gospel in the strongly Islamic country.
Announcing the seizure, which took place between Zanjan and Abhar in the north-west of Iran, a parliamentary advisor said that Christian missionaries were trying to deceive people, especially Iranian youth. He added:
They have begun a huge campaign by spending huge sums and false propaganda for deviating the public.
The important point in this issue that should be considered by intelligence, judicial and religious agencies is that all religions are strengthening their power to confront Islam, otherwise what does this huge number of Bibles mean?
Last November, police officers and revolutionary guards seized 300 Bibles from a bus before setting the books on fire.
The large volume of Bibles entering Iran is the government’s greatest concern, according to Iranian Christian news agency Mohabat News. It said, “There have always been major concerns among Islamic republic officials about conversions to Christianity among people.”
Indeed, the authorities have been waging a propaganda campaign through Iranian state media to attack and discredit Christianity. Last month, offensive caricatures depicting Christ and Christians were published in the magazine Javan, which is a mouthpiece of the Guardian Militia. One of the pictures is of a hopeless Christian pastor who has become tired of preaching the Gospel. The caption claims that the work of Christian ministers in Iran has lost its “lustre and momentum”, when in fact reports from inside Iran indicate that more people than ever before, especially from the younger generation, are leaving Islam and turning to Christ.
False and insulting stories about Christians have also appeared in government media. One such article that was published on the website Youth Online alleged that women evangelists were going into stores, using shopping as a pretext to enter into conversation with staff, and then suggesting sexual liaisons and insulting Islam.
Mohabat News said the Iranian authorities had “resorted to slander and insults against the Christian community” in response to continuing mass conversions to Christianity. It said that “such behaviour reflects the failure of the current Islamic regime in presenting its Islamic ideology”.