Persecution Fridays – Iran

July 22, 2011 at 9:38 am | Posted in VOM Fridays | Leave a comment
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For more news on what’s really happening to Christians around the world go to the Voice of the Martyrs website: www.persecution.com

Iran: Life in Prison

In March 2009, Christian roommates Maryam Rustampoor, 29, and Marzieh Amirizadeh, 32, were charged by the Iranian state with being “anti-government activists.” They spent 259 days in Tehran’s notorious Evin prison before being released in November 2009.

In the first interview since their release, the two discussed their life in prison with Sam Yeghnazar of Elam Ministries. Continue Reading Persecution Fridays – Iran…

Persecution Fridays: Iran – “Dismantle Evangelism”

March 25, 2011 at 6:30 am | Posted in VOM Fridays | Leave a comment
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For more news on what’s really happening to Christians around the world go to the Voice of the Martyrs website: www.persecution.com

Iran: Dismantle Evangelism

Iran’s Religious Leaders Continue Public Attacks on Christianity

Ayatollah Vahid Khorasani spoke out against Christianity and evangelism during a recent religious class at the Islamic seminary in Qom, Iran. On Wednesday, March 9, Khorasani stated, “People [in Iran] have become Christians, and Shiite youths are being misled by Christianity.” His statements were published on the government website “Ayandeh.”

Khorasani told his students, “There is no one to tell to the government officials what this misled and distracted Christian evangelism is doing even in Qom.” Qom, an important religious city for Shiites, is home to the largest center for Shiite scholarship in the world. “Christian-deviated teachings are being diverted to our nation,” Khorasani said. “If the authorities even assume that something is going to shake their power, they will confront it with full force, but they do nothing against these evangelists who are misleading our Shiite youth population.”

Khorasani joins several other religious and political leaders in acknowledging the rapid growth of Christianity in Iran and criticizing the government’s inaction. During an October 2010 visit to Qom, Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, warned against the growth of house churches in Iran. He called house churches “enemies of Islam.” Using similar rhetoric, the governor of Tehran Province, Morteza Tamaddon, has called Christians “radicals who want to corrupt and divert the body of Islam.”

The inflammatory words of Iran’s leaders seem to reflect a rising fear of Christianity within the government. In recent months, Christians in Iran have faced a systematic wave of arrests, and new converts from Islam have been especially targeted. More than 200 Christians have been imprisoned since Christmas. To date, 20 of them have seen no progress in their cases, and they continue to face difficult circumstances inside detention centers.

Evidence of the Iranian government’s disdain for Christianity continues to mount. During a routine inspection of a bus at a border crossing recently, the office of Contraband Search and Seizure, along with members of the revolutionary guard, discovered two boxes containing 300 New Testaments each. The revolutionary guards seized the boxes and burned the Bibles.

Persecution Friday: Iran

February 11, 2011 at 8:10 pm | Posted in VOM Fridays | Leave a comment
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For more news on what’s really happening to Christians around the world go to the Voice of the Martyrs website: www.persecution.com 

 Iran: Seven Christians Released

Seven Iranian Christians were released from prison on bail on Saturday, Jan. 29. Four women were released from Tehran’s Evin prison, and two men and a woman were released in the city of Isfahan three days earlier. The seven spent one month in prison after being arrested along with 31 other Christians on Dec. 26, 2010. Some of the other 31 have since been released. All were arrested simply because they are Christians.

The seven reported they spent 34 days in solitary confinement and endured hours of interrogation. They were tortured psychologically. It is likely that the other 26 Christians still in prison are in solitary confinement and are also facing interrogation.

Two of those who remain in prison are Rasool and Maryam Abdolahi, whose arrests left their two children to live as orphans. While Maryam was able to call her children from prison, the traumatized children have not heard from their father in more than 34 days. All of the other prisoners were able to call their families. Church leaders are extremely worried about Rasool.

Iran Christians
21 of the 33 Christians arrested.
(click to enlarge)

At least 26 other Christians are still in prison, including Yousef Nadarkhani, who was sentenced to death for apostasy. Two couples, Vahik and Sonia Abrahamian and Srash and Arezoo Kermanjani, have been in prison in Hamadan for nearly four months. Two others, Mojtaba Keshavarz and Shahin Rostami, have been held in Arak for more than three months. Church members are concerned for their health. Sonia is suffering from the poor conditions in prison, and Shahin is diabetic.

The women released in Tehran were Ladan Nouri, Nasrin Hosseini-nia, Anahita Zare and Sara Akhavan. Sara Akhavan’s family gave up their trade license in exchange for her bail, and if authorities decide she has broken bail, the family’s livelihood will be gone. Sadly, the trade license was not valuable enough to secure bail for Sara’s sister, Leila, who remains in prison. Rafi Nadipoor, Basir Amini and Yasaman Yar-Ahmadi were released in Isfahan.

Continue to pray for Christians in Iran, who face extreme pressure under the government’s new policy of “religious cleansing.” “We felt [your] presence alongside us,” said an Iranian Christian who spent months in prison. “Don’t think that your prayers are unimportant.”

Persecution Fridays: Iran

February 4, 2011 at 10:49 am | Posted in VOM Fridays | Leave a comment
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For more news on what’s really happening to Christians around the world go to the Voice of the Martyrs website: www.persecution.com 

Iran: Government Cracks Down

Since Christmas, more than 70 Christians have been arrested in Iran in a large, well-coordinated strike. Most of those arrested belong to the house church movement. Many were released from custody, but a dozen or more remain in detention. Those charged with trying to convert Muslims face the possibility of a death sentence. Officials say that more detentions are possible, and Tehran’s governor said in a recent speech that evangelicals are “corrupt and deviant.”

According to a Washington Times report, Saman Kamvar of the Iranian Christian News Agency attributes the increased persecution of evangelicals to remarks made last year by Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei. Khamenei denounced the house church movement during a speech on Oct. 19, warning Iranians against the “network of house churches” that “threaten Islamic faith and deceive young Muslims.”

Christians, including traditional groups such as Armenians, Assyrians and Chaldeans, make up less than 1 percent of the population. About 0.2 percent are evangelical Christians, and many of those are part of the house church movement. Because the Iranian government cannot monitor them, house churches present a greater threat than historically established churches.

VOM works closely with house churches in Iran, supporting them with literature, Bibles and other ministry tools. Contacts tell us that Iranians are very open to the gospel right now, after a generation of living under the heavy hand of Islam. House churches are growing daily as Iranians trust Christ with their lives. Pray that these recent arrests will only strengthen the commitment of new Christians. Pray that house church leaders who are under surveillance will find creative ways to continue sharing the gospel.


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