Published: 00:00 GMT Standard Time - Tuesday 11 January 2011
Iranian Christians arrested in home raids
Country/Region: Middle East and North Africa, Iran
“The authorities came to our homes. They arrested us and many other believers. I want to ask you to pray for us. We are sure God will never leave us or forsake us... Sorry for giving you bad news, but I believe God will do something for us.” Iranian Christian arrested in night-time raids
More than 70 Christians have been arrested in a crackdown on Iran’s house church movement by the authorities..
Armed special security officers forced their way into various homes in Tehran and the western city of Mashhad in the early hours of 26 December while the occupiers were asleep. Dozens of Christians, many of whom are converts from Islam, were verbally and physically abused before being detained for interrogation. Among them were house church pastors and leaders, married couples, two of whom were separated from young children, and a number of young single women.
One of those arrested, Davood Kaboli (31), was blindfolded and interrogated about the work of churches in Tehran, before being released. He said, “They have made it impossible for Christians to gather. They want to create fear so we abandon Christianity.”
It is understood that another 16 Christians would have been detained but were not at home when the security forces broke in. Their relatives were harassed and ordered to tell the Christians to turn themselves in to the authorities.
Some of the detained have since been released, after signing statements that they would no longer participate in Christian activities. The others remain in prison, where, one detainee reports, they are being subjected to sleep deprivation. No charges have been made, though it is clear that the Christians were arrested because of their faith.
The Governor General of Tehran Province, Morteza Tamadon, confirmed on 4 January that a number of Christians had been arrested. He described house church worshippers as “deviants” and “parasites” and warned of further arrests. Governor Tamadon also suggested that the Christians have links to Britain, amid growing fears among the authorities of foreign influence in Iran.
The leaders and members of Iran’s house churches, who are often converts from Islam, have been in heightened danger since Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, made a speech last October warning against the network of house churches that “threaten Islamic faith and deceive young Muslims”.
Updated 13 January, 2011.
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