In a rare crackdown on a concentrated area, Iranian authorities have arrested Christians living in the country’s third largest city in what is seen as a tactic to discourage Muslims and converts to Christianity from attending official churches.
Authorities have arrested leaders and members of churches meeting in buildings, as well as some from underground churches.
Lawyers for an Iranian pastor awaiting a final decision on his death sentence have not received communication from authorities that their client will be executed, despite reports that his death is imminent.
Rumors of an imminent execution of Yousef Nadarkhani — who is a pastor in a movement considered to be theologically a cult of Christianity — were leaked this week after a source close to one of his lawyers contacted international media.
Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence has ordered the last two officially registered churches holding Friday Farsi-language services in Tehran to discontinue them.
The services attracted the city’s converts to Christianity as well as Muslims interested in Christianity.
Iranian authorities this week arrested Christian converts from Islam while they were meeting for worship at a home in the southern city of Shiraz, according to sources.
The sources put the number of the arrested Christians, who belong to one of Iran’s many underground house churches, at between six and 10.
Iranian pastor Youcef Nadarkhani has to serve at least one more year in prison before he may be executed for refusing to abandon his faith in Christ and return to Islam, an official assisting him has said.
Iran’s judiciary wants to use that time to “use whatever means necessary to cause him to convert to Islam”, explained Jason DeMars, director of advocacy group Present Truth Ministries.
A jailed pastor of one of Iran’s largest evangelical house church movements remains “strong in his faith” in Christ, despite facing execution before Christmas for refusing to return to Islam.
He isn’t the only family member facing criminal charges for converting to Christianity.
Militants with suspected ties to Iranian security forces have threatened to kill nearly a dozen evangelical Christians who fled Iran unless they “repent” and return to Islam.
At least 11 Iranian Christians received electronic mail messages from ‘The Unknown Soldiers Of The Hidden Imam’ calling on them to either repent or face extra-judicial execution.
After he became a Christian in the Netherlands, as well as getting free from drugs, Abrahamian returned to Iran to work with drug users.
Iranian authorities were incensed that Abrahamian worked with marginalized Farsi-speaking Muslims, and that he had connections with foreign Christians.
Eleven members of one of Iran’s largest evangelical house church movements, who were charged with ‘action against the order of the country’ and drinking alcohol, have been acquitted by an Iranian court, BosNewsLife learned Friday, May 20.
The charges referred to their involvement in a house church meeting and to taking communion wine, Iranian Christians said earlier.
Five detained members of one of Iran’s largest house church movements were to face a trial Monday, April 5, on charges of “blasphemy” which carries the death penalty in this strict Islamic nation.
The five Christians were initially arrested in June 2010 on charges of apostasy, political meetings, blasphemy and crimes against the Islamic Order.
Five Iranian house church Christians were behind bars Wednesday, March 15, after being sentenced to one year imprisonment on charges of “crimes against the Islamic order” and there were reports that Iranian authorities have been burning Bibles.
The attacks come amid wider reported pressure on groups deemed dangerous by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s government.
In December and January authorities arrested up to 120 believers after Iranian religious and political figures acknowledged the existence of home fellowships and condemned them as a threat to the state. Sources estimate at least 62 of those arrested during late December and January have been released, some on bail. A typical bail amount in Iran can range between a few thousand dollars and the deed on a house.
Some of the Christians who were released reported they were subjected to solitary confinement and harsh interrogation, according to a statement by Elam Ministries on Feb. 4. The statement said some Christians held at Section 209 of Tehran’s notorious Evin Prison suffered up to 34 days in solitary confinement.
The Vatican raised the possibility Sunday of using behind-the-scenes diplomacy to try to save the life of an Iranian widow sentenced to be stoned for adultery
In its first public statement on the case, which has attracted worldwide attention, the Vatican decried stoning
as a particularly brutal form of capital punishment
Vatican spokesman the Rev. Federico Lombardi said
the Catholic church opposes the death penalty
It is unclear what chances any Vatican bid would have to persuade the Muslim
nation to spare the woman’s life. Brazil, which has friendly relations with Iran, was rebuffed when it offered her asylum.
Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani
was convicted in 2006 of adultery. In July, Iranian authorities said they would not carry out the stoning sentence for the time being, but the mother of two could still face execution by hanging
for adultery and other offenses.
the death penalty is a barbaric form of punishment
that should be rejected by all civilized nations — as should the Shariah
. Islamic law is incompatible with Western civilization.
Hundreds of protesters will gather
worldwide Saturday to rally against the imprisonment and possible execution of an Iranian woman convicted of adultery
The case of Sakineh Mohammedie Ashtiani
has drawn international attention
. She was convicted of adultery in 2006 and faces the possibility of execution.
Ashtiani was originally sentenced to death by stoning
, but it was put on hold
earlier this month after an international outcry.
Despite the sentencing delay, human rights activists want to remind the world of Ashtiani’s plight, said Mina Ahadi, chairman of the International Committee Against Execution and Stoning
, one of the groups leading Saturday’s protests.
“The fact is, the execution can still happen,” Ahadi said. “And, often times in Iran, these types of executions will happen without any notice.”
Earlier this month, Ashtiani’s lawyer, Mohammad Mostafaei, told CNN that she confessed to the crime after being subjected to 99 lashes.
She later recanted the confession and has denied wrongdoing, he said.
Most civilized countries view the death penalty
as a barbaric practice
and a violation of human right.
A well-known Iranian pastor faces execution after two judges agreed to make him “liable to capital punishment,” as part of a crackdown on the growing Protestant church movement in the Islamic nation.
Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani was detained in June along with wife Fatemeh Pasandideh in the city of Rasht in northwestern Iran because of their Christian activities, Iranian Christians said.
At least 14 Christians have been detained in Iranian prisons for weeks without legal counsel in the past few months as last year’s crackdown has continued, sources said.
In the southwestern city of Shiraz, seven Christians were being detained as of Jan. 11, another source said, and most of them may face charges of apostasy, or leaving Islam
A group of ex-Muslims who converted to Christianity were preparing Wednesday, September 16, for an upcoming court hearing in Iran on suspicion of “apostasy”, after they were temporarily released on bail from one of the country’s most notorious prisons, BosNewsLife
They were among 25 individuals arrested by security forces while attending a Christian gathering in Tehran.
American Iranian free-lance journalist Roxana Saberi who reported for Vatican Radio and other international media has been freed from a Tehran prison, amid international pressure, her attorney confirmed Monday, May 11.
The 32-year-old dual American-Iranian national had been in detention for nearly three months. On April 18, Iran’s Revolutionary Court charged her with spying for the United States and sentenced her to eight years in prison.
Iran has suggested that it will boycott Dutch products if MP Geert Wilders shows his Koran film in March as planned.