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Increase of Anti-Christian Activities During Christmas in Iran

Danielle Miskell | ASSIST News Service | Monday, January 2, 2012

Increase of Anti-Christian Activities During Christmas in Iran

IRAN (ANS) -- Iranian Christians continue to grieve from the aftermath of the raids that took place on Christmas this year, and fear for what is possibly to come in the new year.

Iranian Christian news agency Mohabat News reports that Iranian security authorities have started another anti-Christian campaign to intimidate and make more arrests of Christian converts who try to celebrate Christian holidays this year.

State Security agents already made arrests before Christmas on Friday, Dec. 23, 2011, when they raided church services and detained pastors, women and children. Now the same threats linger on for the new year.

In 2011’s arrest, the violence and brutality has reportedly worsened. Iranian security agents have shown no mercy even to children as they raided Sunday school classes and attacked the children, ultimately treating them as if they were criminals.

Furthermore from these inhumane acts and arrests, Mohabat News received word from Tehran that the selling of Christian Bibles and gospels has officially been banned from Assembly of God churches.

The mayor of Tehran, Morteza Tamadon, is in full support of this interrogation against Christian converts and warns of an increase in pressure and arrests. Alongside his sentiments, intelligence minister of the Islamic Republic, Heydar Moslehi, has publicly expressed his belief in that the house church movement is a threat to Iranian youth and, therefore, is developing new tactics to counteract the spread of house churches.

The Farsi Christian News Network (FCNN) has reported that Christian activists and house church members are ordered to present themselves to the local State Security officers of their respective towns and cities. Those cities consist of Tehran and six others, and they are being faced with indefinite interrogation.

Provincial governments are also forcing churches to still publicly participate in the two-month-long mourning activities of the Shia Muslims. They expected for the churches to cancel their Christmas celebration, and were on Dec. 29 maintaining that they cancel their new year celebrations as well as a way of showing their compliance.

These anti-Christian activities and church raids have occurred in recent years prior to 2011. Last Christmas, hundreds of Christian converts were discovered in secrecy and arrested by Iranian intelligence from their house churches and homes. They were forced to identify themselves before being arrested and subjected to verbal and physical abuse. To this day, there are still pastors with their families, who were admitted from last year’s arrest, in Islamic prisons where the conditions are unknown. To name a few, those who are still in custody from last year’s Christmas arrest are Noorollah Qabitizade and Farshid Fathi.

The "Human Rights House of Iran" has reported that Fariborz Arazm, Maryam Jalili, Shahala Rahmati, and Mitra Zahmati, who were arrested in recent months, remain in solitary confinement of ward 209 of Evin prison. They have been sentenced to two-and-a-half years of imprisonment for having membership of an “illegal group” and a faith other than Shi’ite Islam.

ASSIST News Service has also accounted for Rev. Farhad Sabok-Rooh and his wife’s arrest made on Friday, December 23, 2011.

Danielle Miskell, 24, is a 2009 graduate of Vanguard University of Southern California. With her Bachelor of Arts Degree in Communication and Journalism, she is currently residing in Los Angeles and works as a free-lance journalist. Aside from currently writing for ANS, her journalistic ventures have recently consisted of interning at KABC7-TV, Los Angeles, volunteering for the production team with the Silver Lake Jubilee Music Festival, and doing online webisode interviews for online music hub, LA Beet. Regarding anything to do with ANS or other writing opportunities, Danielle can be contacted by e-mail at [email protected].

Publication date: January 2, 2012