At least 7 arrested in Iran during a Christmas raid
by Nicolas Ciarapica, Blogdei.com
They have succeeded where others have failed. The Church of Iran, a local evangelical movement led by young Iranians now claims more members than other denominations with foreign support. However, it is in great danger. After years of harassment from the government, at least 7 of its leaders have just been imprisoned in the north and south of the country.
Even though the 13th article of Iranian constitution guarantees to a certain degree religious freedom for minorities (Jews, Christians and Zoroastrians), it is still forbidden for a Muslim to change religion. Yet, according to fatwas decreed by Ayatollah Montazari who passed away last December and Ayatollah Sanei, new converts to one of the monotheisms should not be deemed apostates. Reality is somewhat different.
After the raid on December 10, 2006 which received international support and another one on May 11, 2009, the Church of Iran is once more under attack. Social unrests, reshuffling inside the Ministry of Intelligence as well as increasing pressure upon the Baha’is were signs that a widespread showdown was coming close.
That was the case during Christmas season. Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani from Rasht was arrested on October 12, 2009 for apostasy against Islam and remains under custody. Despite the risk, members of his church held a Christmas celebration. Keyvan Rajabi replaced the pastor and was arrested after a “convocation” from the intelligence service, which offered him the usual deal: requiring for information about meetings, members’ lists.
In the same way as behind the Iron Curtain, some believers get manipulated up to the point that they hand down brothers to the authorities. Confronted with the movement’s refusal to cooperate, the authorities now demand that former Muslims return to Islam. Dozens of believers were summoned, after which 5 leaders of the movement have been jailed in Shiraz, in the south of the country. These pastors from several towns had been told that the object of the convocation was to negotiate. In fact it was a trap. At the same time in Kermanshah in the west, an Assyrian Pentecostal church was closed.
Here are the persons whose arrest had been confirmed.
- Youcef Nadarkhani (Rasht)
- Keyvan Rajabi (Rasht)
- Parviz Khaladj (Rasht)
- Mehdi (Petros) Furutan (Rasht)
- Roxana Furuui (Shiraz)
- Pastor Behrouz (Marco) Sadegh-Khanjani (Teheran)
- Pastor Abdol Reza (Matthias) Ali Haghnejad (Bandar-Anzali)
Please publish this article on the net, without this paragraph. You can write or call the Iranian embassy in your country, without mentioning Blogdei. Just say that you have read it on the web or in the media. Be polite and show that you are astonished that these people are in jail for merely exercising their freedom of conscience, whereas the Iranian constitution allows it. You can also forward this article to official Muslim organisations.