17 April 2019
For the full reports please follow the links.
Iranian Christians are thankful that seven members of the “Church of Iran” who were recently arrested have been allowed release on bail.
Hossein Kadivar was the first to be released on Saturday 16 March. On Sunday and Monday, Babak Hosseinzadeh, Behnam Akhlaghi, Kamal Naamanian, Mohammed Vafada and Khalil Dehkanpour were also released, reportedly after submitting bail of 150 million Toman (US$12,000 / £9,200) each. Mehdi Khatibi is expected to be released on bail today. The charges against them are not known. They expect to be summoned to court, but there is no indication when this might happen.
Khalil Dehkanpour and Hossein Kadivar were arrested at the end of January and detained in Lakan Prison. Their pastor, Abdolreza (Matthias) Haghnejad was arrested at his home on 10 February and Kamal Naamanian, Mohammed Vafada and Shahrooz Eslamdous were arrested on 15 February. Three more church members, Babak Hosseinzadeh, Mehdi Khatibi and Behnam Akhlaghi were arrested on 23 February.
Matthias Haghnejad and Shahrooz Eslamdous remain detained. Matthias is charged with action against national security and promoting Zionist Christianity.
International Christian Concern reported about Iranian cleric Hujjat al-Islam Naser Rafiei who delivered a speech in Qom (home to the largest Islamic seminary in Iran) which warned against the spread of Christianity throughout the country. He specifically named house churches and evangelical networks as an attraction for Iranian youth whose faith in Islam is diminishing.
This growth in the Iranian church has led the regime to increasingly persecute Christians on the basis that they are seeking to overthrow and occupy Islamic land. The regime, which is heavily influenced by Iran’s clerical class, is feeling pressured because of the widespread discontent of the population. Many Iranians are tired of the strict Islamic moralism imposed upon them by the government. The youth in particular are curious about alternatives, thus opening the door for the spread of the Gospel message.
Iranian Christians are requesting prayer for a series of recent arrests. Shortly before Christmas, five Iranian women were taken into custody, including 65-year-old Ruhsari Kamberi. Following her arrest, Ruhsari faced ten days of intensive interrogation. Authorities had also searched the senior woman’s home, where they confiscated her phone, Bibles and Christian materials. After eventually being released on bail, Ruhsari was brought before the prosecutor in mid-January to answer charges of “acting against national security.” During the court hearing, she was ordered to meet with an Islamic religious leader to be “instructed” and offered the opportunity to return to Islam.
Two Christian sisters, Shima and Shokoufeh Zanganeh were temporarily released on bail from Sepidar Prison in Ahvaz. They remain free until their trial.
Shima and Shokoufeh Zanganeh, two Christian converts arrested earlier for their Christian faith were temporarily released on a heavy bail of 500 million Tomans (approximately 100,000 USD).
International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that on March 8, 2019, Ebrahim Raisi was sworn into office as the new Judiciary Chief of Iran’s Islamic Republic. His long anticipated appointment comes with a five-year term, which is approved by Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Raisi’s career trajectory comes at the expense of a long line of serious human rights abuses that have provoked great alarm regarding his new position.
- 3 Apr: Persecution Iran’s Terror Factory: Part 1 – ICC
- 4 Apr: Persecution Iran’s Terror Factory: Part 2 – ICC
In February 1979, a recently returned-from-exile Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini led an uprising that eventually ousted the Shah of Iran. Although he initially spoke about human rights and freedom of religion, the rise to power saw the Ayatollah in pursuit of an Islamist agenda and the imposition of Sharia law.
The early days of the new state also saw a group of Iranian students held 52 Americans hostage for 444 days, frayed global diplomatic ties, Saddam Hussein’s invasion and a bloody eight-year war. As a result, today’s Islamic Republic faces acute economic challenges as it struggles with a mix of domestic hardships and US sanctions. Increasingly isolationist rhetoric feels like a turning back of the clock, but Heart 4 Iran’s Mike Ansari says, “During sanctions it is unlikely for Iran to close its doors. However Iran is closely monitoring its border-activities, identifying and dealing with threats as it sees necessary.”
Meanwhile here in Britain: 20 to 24 March 2019
Radio 4 Asylum Failed Applicant Interview (Originally aired, 24th March 2019) – YouTube
Images of the relevant section of the Home Office letter can be seen in the following report by the Daily Mirror:
See the full notes for links to reports about Egypt, Kazakhstan, China, Nigeria, and Pakistan.