Published: 11:00 GMT Standard Time - Tuesday 22 November 2011
Iranian Christian couple attacked upon release from prison
Country/Region: Iran, Middle East and North Africa
An Iranian Christian couple who were imprisoned for eight months without charge have been forced to flee the country after being attacked upon their release.
Arash Kermanjani and his wife Arezo Teymouri
Arash Kermanjani (29) and his wife Arezo Teymouri (26) were arrested along with another couple, Pastor Vahik Abrahamian and Sonia Keshish-Avanesian, at the latter’s home in Hamadan in September 2010.
They were accused – though never charged – of a variety of offences, including being connected with exiled opposition sources, propagating Christianity in Iran, opposing the Islamic Republic and the formation of opposition groups in and out of the country.
Arash, Arezo and Sonia were released unexpectedly on 30 April while Pastor Vahik was inexplicably held in detention.
The trio came under attack as soon as they left the prison. As they began driving away, their vehicle was surrounded by three motorbikes, which flanked them for some distance; the riders shouted abuse and threw bricks at the car, making the Christians fearful for their lives.
From the moment we got out of the prison gates we never felt safe, actually quite the opposite. We feared attack by Islamic vigilantes and Agents of the Islamic Regime. All venues of work and employment were closed to us and we were constantly under surveillance; so we decided to leave the country for our own safety and seek refuge elsewhere.
They are now in a neighbouring country, awaiting relocation by the United Nations refugee agency, UNHCR.
Pastor Vahik and Sonia have also left Iran. They wanted to stay and continue their ministry among the needy and marginalised, but opposition from Islamist extremists put their lives at risk.
In an interview with the Farsi Christian News Network (FCNN), Arash and Arezo described their ordeal in Iranian custody and how their faith in the Lord Jesus sustained them throughout. They endured solitary confinement and endless psychological pressure.
Arezo said that the prison guards “ridiculed and debased me at every opportunity”, adding:
They tried very hard to frighten me, and I knew the situation is critical and felt my life in danger, so I naturally was terrified; but my belief in Jesus, and witnessing God’s work on my life helped my overcome their threats and not to allow fear overpowering me.
Arash said that he was very concerned for his wife while they were separated in prison and prayed for her protection constantly. He said:
I realised that God’s power is far greater than my fears. From then on my mind was at peace and could clearly see the hand of God protecting us.
He said that he was under constant pressure to confess to conspiring with foreigners against Iran; he heard that they were accused of being “ideological thieves and members of a Zionist group opposing the Islamic Regime”.
After eight months I guess they realised they were wrong about us, and caught on the fact that we are but simple witnesses to Christ.
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