Security officials from Iran’s Intelligence Ministry raided the homes of eight Iranians converts to Christianity on July 1, in the southern city of Bushehr, taking them to solitary confinement.
Security forces raided and searched their houses and confiscated their Bibles, Christian statues and signs, wooden crosses, paintings, laptops, cellphones, ID cards and credit cards. The children witnessed all of these events as well as the cruelty by security forces in arresting their parents.
The detainees are Sam Khosravi, 36, and his wife, Maryam Falahi 35; Sam’s brother Sasan Khosravi, 35, and his wife Marjan Falahi, 33; Sam’s mother Khatoon Fatolahzadeh, 61; Poorya Peyma, 27, and his wife Fatemeh Talebi, 27; and Habib Heydari, 38. Mrs. Fatohlahzadeh was released on the same day due to her age.
The prisoners are being held at an Intelligence Ministry site in Bushehr.
Iran is widely listed as one of the worst countries on earth to be a Christian, with religious freedom group Open Doors USA listing Iran as the 9th worst country for persecution of Christians.
In the past several years, Christian converts in Iran have experienced an ongoing crackdown and repression in various forms, with their activity closely monitored by the Iranian intelligence service (MOIS) and the Revolutionary Guard (IRCG).
Many Christians were arrested, specifically in the run-up to Christmas, and charged with vague national security crimes. International Christian Concern described this as a “Terror Factory” targeting Christians.
The ICC said: “In Iran, any practice that contradicts Islam is regarded as a national security threat, punished severely by the court system… Christians may be looking at large fines, detention, lengthy prison sentences, or even execution under Islamic Sharia law.”
Amnesty International, the Assyrian Policy Institute, and the United Nations have all urged the Iranian government to “respect the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion” and to “quash the convictions and sentences” of those arrested merely for practising their Christian faith.
The UN said: “This shows a disturbing pattern of individuals being targeted because of their religion or beliefs, in this case, a religious minority in the country. Members of the Christian minority in Iran, particularly those who have converted to the faith, are facing severe discrimination and religious persecution.”