Iran arrests Christians in growing crackdown on minority

A website that exclusively reflects the news concerning Iranians converted to Christianity, Mohabat News reported that two Christian converts Shima and Shokoufeh Zanganeh who were arrested about two weeks ago in the southwestern city of Ahvaz, were beaten during interrogations.

The two sisters had been arrested in their homes on Sunday, September 2 and taken to an unknown location.Their Bibles and other religious literature were seized in the raid.

The family’s efforts to get information on their fate or whereabouts had no result.

After a few days Shima Zanganenh was allowed to make a brief phone call to inform her family that she and her sister had been detained in an IRGC detention center.

Their cases were eventually sent to the 12 branch of Revolutiuonary Court of Ahvaz and the women were taken to the city’s Sepidar Prison on December 12.

Although the court has set bail for the women and their family has met the bail, the authorities have refused to release them.

Meanwhile, the website reported that another Christian convert, was taken to Raja’e Shahr Prison in Karaj, west of the Capital.

Jamshid Derakhshan, was arrested on November 30, in what some human rights activists are calling a rash of arrests of Christians in Iran.

Mr. Derakhshan who live in Karaj, had arranged to meet in Hashtgerd, where he plannedd to attend a prayer gathering in house church.

Iranian authorities have escalated their crackdown on Christians in recent weeks.

More than 100 Iranian Christians were arrested last week in another sign of increasing pressure on Iran’s believers.

Many of the 114 detained were converts to Christianity from Muslim backgrounds, accused of “proselytising”.

They had to report the history of their Christian activities and were told to cut contact with any Christian groups, according to Open Doors UK, a charity that speaks out on persecution against Christians.

Citing Open Doors, the Daily Telegraph reported Monday that growing public interest in the minority faith, which makes up less than 1 percent — or around 350,000 — of the population, has worried the Islamic regime, leading to to crackdowns on churches and congregants.

Zoe Smith, head of advocacy at Open Doors told the paper: “This spike in arrests is highly concerning.

“It follows an established trend of the Iranian government: as the number of converts to Christianity increase, so the authorities place greater restrictions on churches.

“The restrictions are worse for churches seen to be attended by Christians who have converted from Islam. Not only that, but the government is asking unreasonably high bail amounts and seeing longer prison terms for Christians.”

She added that Church leaders are being “put under pressure to leave the country or face an arrest.”

Open Doors speaks out against persecution of Christians abroad.

In a statement, the group said: “Iran is an Islamic Republic, and leaving Islam to follow another faith is illegal.

“Sharing the gospel with a Muslim, owning a Bible in the Farsi language, or leading a secret church meeting for believers from Muslim backgrounds are all punishable offences.

“Believers from Muslim backgrounds make up the biggest group of Christians in Iran – but they must keep their faith completely secret.”

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