(Fides) 22 July 2013 - Shiraz (Agenzia Fides) - Eight evangelical Christians in Shiraz were sentenced to jail after being found guilty of "action against the national security" and "propaganda against the order of the system". The news was given, in a note sent to Fides Agency by the Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW), committed to the defense of religious freedom. The sentence was given on Tuesday, July 16. Seven of them were arrested on October 12, 2012 during an evening raid by the security services on a house in Shiraz where a prayer service was underway. Those arrested were later released on bail. The sentences imposed by the court vary from six to one year in prison. It is expected that the prisoners appeal their convictions. In a statement, the National Council of the Church of Iran said that these charges are "entirely without foundation". "In accordance with the Gospel," the statement said, "the Church is apolitical. However, as loyal citizens we will continue to pray for our leaders and for peace and reconciliation in our nation".
(MohabatNews) 08 July 2013 -According to Mohabat News reporters, the trial of Mohammad Hadi (Mostafa) Bordbar was held on June 9, 2013 at branch 26 of the Revolutionary Court of Tehran, judged by Mr. Pir-Abbasi. Mostafa Bordbar is a resident of Rasht and was arrested on December 27, 2012.
(ASSIST) 19 June 2013 - With so much attention focused on Iran's presidential election, there was “minimal” media coverage of the recent conviction of six Christian believers.
The four men were found guilty of attending a house church, spreading Christianity, having contact with foreign ministries, propaganda against the regime and disrupting national security. Each was sentenced to three year and eight months in prison.
In addition, Mohabat News reported, Homayoun Shokouhi and Mojtaba Seyyed-Alaedin Hossein were sentenced to eight more months in prison.
Fariba Nazemina and her 17 year old son, Nima Shokouhi, each received a two year suspended prison sentence.
Mohabat News said the sentence these individuals received is what is known as an “initial” one, meaning they have 20 days to appeal the ruling if they wish.
Mohabat News said after this ruling was made, all contact with these individuals is lost.
Mohabat News said the sentences were handed down while headlines focused on the Iranian presidential election.
Mohabat News commented, “It seems that the Iranian Intelligence organizations have been actively pursuing their intentions during the past one and a half months of presidential election activities to pressure non-Muslim Iranians (in) the most severe form possible. With people and media so much engaged in elections, this time is a golden opportunity for Iran's Islamic regime to resume religious minority cases.”
In another story of persecution, Mohabat News said the agency earlier published a story about the critical health condition of another Christian prisoner, Vahid Hakkani. He has internal bleeding in his digestive system.
Mohabat News said reports indicate that the judicial authorities of Fars province have not taken action to alleviate the problem, and Hakkani's situation is worsening.
(Mohabat) 22 May 2013 -Following the recent increased pressure of Islamic regime of Iran on Christians, aiming to further restrict Christians, plain-cloth security authorities raided Pastor Robert Asseriyan's house to arrest him. Unsuccessful to find him at his house, they went after him to the Central AOG church where he is a church leader.
(WN) 17 May 2013 - A Christian prisoner suffering internal bleeding has been denied proper medical attention in Iran, according to Barnabas Aid.
According to his prison doctors, Vahid Hakkani — who has been detained since his arrest in February 2012 — urgently needs surgery, but Iranian officials have refused to transfer him to a hospital.
Hakkani is on a ward for prisoners of conscience, many of whom also suffer physical and mental health issues as a result of its poor prison conditions.
Hakkani was arrested at a house church gathering along with a number of other Christians; although they were all accused of evangelizing and promoting Christianity, having contact with foreign Christian organisations and disturbing national security, to date none of them has been convicted of any offence.
(MohabatNews) 07 May 2013 - According to a Mohabat News correspondent, Ebrahim Firouzi has been temporarily released on bail of 30 million Tomans (approximately 20,000 USD) on April 29, 2013, after spending 53 days in Evin prison.
(MN) 19 March 2013 - The Christian convert was arrested for the second time. Christians in Iran, especially Christian converts, conclude Persian year 1391, and like in previous years, they face increasing pressure and threats from the Islamic regime of Iran.
(ACLJ) 14 January 2013 - American Pastor Saeed Abedini, who is being held in one of Iran’s most abusive prisons because of his Christian faith, faces a new challenge. His case was just transferred to a judge who is notorious for violating human rights.
This new development is highly troubling—it appears Iran is determined to remove any chance of the American pastor receiving any semblance of a fair trial. Even more troubling is that the U.S. government has remained silent, essentially abandoning this American in his search for justice.
(6News) 21 December 21 - A pastor from Boise is being held in Iran without charge. He has been imprisoned, since September in the notoriously brutal Evin Prison.
(ICC) 29 November 2012 - Reports of Iranian authorities arresting Christians for their faith are pouring in, indicating that the Islamic nation is running a massive campaign targeting house churches.
Officials from Iran's Cyber Police force raided the home of a Christian convert, Alireza Ebrahimi, in the northern city of Gorgan, the capital of Golestan Province, Mohabat News reported on Nov. 16. The officials had an arrest warrant for Ebrahimi, who was apparently not at home at the time and it remains unclear if he was being held in prison. The Christian man is a blogger who uses the social media for evangelism.
On Nov. 15, London-based Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) said in a statement that the health of a 41-year-old pastor, who was arrested last year, was in critical condition and "there is a very real chance he will die." Pastor Behnam Irani, who is currently serving a six-year sentence, was a leader of the Church of Iran in the city of Karaj in Alborz Province, He had reportedly been beaten in prison and was being denied hospitalization despite having a bleeding ulcer. He was arrested allegedly for acting against the interests of national security, while the real reason was evangelism.
On Oct. 12, seven Christians from the Church of Iran were detained during a raid by security personnel in the south-western city of Shiraz, Fars Province, Mohabat reported. The seven were identified as Mohammad Roghangir, Suroush Saraie, Roxana Forughi, Eskandar Rezaie, Bijan Haghighi, Mehdi Ameruni, and Shahin Lahooti, who were taken to the notorious Plaque 100 detention center.
On Oct. 18, authorities arrested two more believers from the same church, identified as Afsar Bahmani and Massoud Rezaie.
However, Ameruni was freed last week on a bail bond of about $25,000 in local currency. Haghighi and Furughi were also released on bail on Oct. 25 and Nov. 1 respectively.
On Oct. 15, three of the five Christian converts who were arrested in February from Shiraz appeared before the Islamic Revolutionary Court in the city to respond to charges against them, which included burning of the Qur'an and having links with enemies of Islam abroad. The five were identified as Vahid Hakani, Mojtaba Hossein, Korush Partoey and Homayoun Shokohi and his wife Fariba Nazemian.
Shokohi and his wife were initially not brought to the court, and the hands and feet of the other three were tied with chains. The judge later asked authorities to bring the Christian couple after he saw their son, who had come to the court to see his parents, having an epileptic seizure near the courtroom. The judge released Nazemian on bail.
The official trial of four other Christian converts from the Assembly of God Church, who were arrested in December 2011, was also held on Oct. 15 at Branch 2 of the Revolutionary Court in Ahwaz, the capital of Khuzestan Province, Mohabat reported. The four were identified as Pastor Farhad Sabokrouh and his wife Shahnaz Jeizan, and church ministers Naser Zamen Dezfuli and Davoud Alijani.
The charges against the four include "converting to Christianity, inviting Muslims to convert, as well as propagating against the Islamic regime through promoting Evangelical Christianity." They were each given a suspended sentence of one year’s imprisonment and the confiscation of all their Christian materials.
In late September, intelligence officials arrested as many as 30 Christians in Shiraz, and sent them to the Plaque 100 detention center, according to the Farsi Christian News Network. Adyan News, partly owned by the state, also reported on the arrests, saying the Christians were part of "the Zionist enemy propaganda crusade in the Holy Islamic Republic of Iran."
The arrest are prompting leaders from various parts of the world to call on Iran to abstain from persecuting Christians.
On Oct. 29, U.K.'s All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) launched a report detailing evidence of the persecution on Iranian Christians by their own government, and calling on the British government to apply pressure on Iran to uphold the fundamental right of religious freedom for all Iranian people.
Reuters recently quoted Ahmed Shaheed, U.N. special rapporteur on human rights in Iran, as saying that he estimated that "over 300 Christians have been arbitrarily arrested and detained throughout the country since June 2010."
"Scores of other Christians appear to remain in detention for freely practicing their religion," Shaheed said. "Churches continue to report undue pressure to report membership, in what appears to be an effort to pressure and sometimes even detain converts."
Christian persecution in Iran increased since June 2009, when the results of the presidential elections were disputed. Many believed President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad Authorities rigged the elections. To deal with growing opposition to his rule, Ahmadinejad began to restrict civil liberties - including religious freedom - and attack protesters.
The Iranian president claims that the West is fueling resistance to his regime. Arrests of Christians are also part of his efforts to tighten noose around people’s freedoms in the face of domestic insecurity and international pressure over the nation's secret nuclear enrichment program.
(BosNewsLife) 20 November 2012 - Iran has released a detained devoted Christian of the 'Church of Iran' on a massive bail but five other recently arrested members of the evangelical house church movement remain behind bars, a church official told BosNewsLife Saturday, November 17.
Mehdi Ameruni was freed this week after raising some $25,000 in local currency, said Firouz Khandjani, a Church of Iran council member,
His release came after fellow believers Bijan Haghighi and Roxana Furughi were freed October 25 and November 1 after paying $25,000 each, he added.
"It's a huge amount in Iran where average monthly wages are up to $300 or less. Their families had to raise the money by putting properties such as a house as security," Khandjani explained earlier.
Five other Church of Iran believers detained with them, Mohammad Roghangir, Surush Saraie, Eskandar Rezaie, Massoud Rezaie and Shahin Lahouty, were moved last week to Adel-Abad prison in Shiraz, he said.
"This suggest that authorities want to keep them a long time," stressed Khandjani, most likely on what Iranian Christians call "trumped-up charges" such as 'crimes against Iran's security'. "It seems authorities want to pressure them to pay for their release," said Khandjani, who is in hiding amid security concerns.
They were expected to meet several other Christian converts in the Adel-Abad prison. Among them are Mojtaba Hosseini, Mohammad-Reza Partoei Kourosh, Vahid Hakkani and Homayoun Shokouhi who have been held some nine months in the detention facility, Christians said.
Khandjani said he believes dozens of Christians remain detained across Iran following a massive crackdown on several churches and groups since last month. "As many as hundreds of Christians were briefly detained and told not to visit church services anymore."
Iranian officials have denied innocent Christians are being detained in prison and often describe them as "criminals" who are "threatening security."
Church of Iran and other movements have linked the reported crackdown to concern among Iranian officials linked to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei about the spread of Christianity in the Islamic nation.
(CBN) 16 November 2012 - CBN just received word that the Swedish government has decided that Iranian Reza Jebbari will be allowed--at least for now--to remain in Sweden. The Muslim convert to Christianity will not be deported and returned to Iran.
Our source sent this word to us this morning:
Migration Services have stopped all actions to get Mr. Reza expelled from Sweden!!!
This is so wonderful and we're so grateful to the Lord and your work!
This means the following: He will get a new hearing. According to his lawyer, in Mr. Reza's case, that hearing will be more of a formality to be able to grant him permission to stay. That, since the evidence now is so strong in his favor!
So, I think - what you can say tonight is that the Migration Services has stopped his expulsion for now and that they will give him a new trial. Also that we are cautiously optimistically that Mr. Reza will be able to stay in Sweden and that we are tremendously thankful for all the support and to the Lord Jesus Christ, who's heard our prayers!
(CBN) 14 November 2012 - Iranian Christian Reza Jebbari faces imminent deportation from Sweden, despite the possibility that his return to Iran could lead to his imprisonment or death.
Jebbari is a former Muslim who converted to Christianity during a visit to Baku, Azerbaijan, in 2010. He applied for assylum when he arrived in Sweden two years ago, but the Swedish Immigration Service and the Migration Court rejected the request.
The assylum denial came despite evidence that Jebbari actively participates in church activities, including street evangelism on a regular basis. He's appeared in church plays and sings in the choir at Tensta Church.
Apparently the court questioned the sincerity of Jebbari's conversion and said he failed to convince them that his life would be in danger if he were sent back to Iran. This, despite assurances from Jebbari's pastor that, "He has a deep Christian identity, as much as I have."
Who would know more about a person's spiritual walk than the person who has mentored him?If Swedish immigration officials would take the time to examine the recent case of Iranian Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani, they would understand the possible fate that awaits Jebbari. The Iranian regime imprisoned Nadarkhani and sentenced him to death because he was considered an apostate.
What additional evidence does the Swedish government need to grant Jebbari assylum? Seems to me this is a no brainer.
If they force Jebbari back to Iran and he is harmed--or even killed-- his blood will be on their hands.
Here's information for contacting the Swedish ambassador's office in Washington, D.C.:
Sweden Embassy, United States
2900 K Street, N.W.
(MohabatNews) 13 November 2012 - Two of the seven non-Trinitarian Christians arrested last month in Shiraz have been temporarily released on bail.
According to previously published news, on October 12, 2012, security authorities raided a gathering place of the group located at Jomhouri Street in Shiraz where they arrested seven members of the so called "Church of Iran" group.
(MohabatNews) 22 October 2012 - The initial trial of five Christian prisoners was held in Shiraz with two of them being absent from the court session. Also, a tragic incident in the last minutes of the trial prompted the release of one of the prisoners on a heavy bail.
15 October 2012
By Jeremy Reynalds - Senior Correspondent for ASSIST News Service
IRAN (ANS) -- Seven Christians from the Church of Iran denomination have been imprisoned following a raid by members of the security services on a house in the city of Shiraz in Fars Province.
According to a news release from Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW), Mohammad (Vahid) Roghangir, Suroush Saraie, Roxana Forughi, Eskandar Rezaie, Bijan Haghighi, Mehdi Ameruni and Shahin Lahooti are currently being held in Plaque 100, the Intelligence Ministry's notorious detention center. They were detained after security forces raided a house where a prayer meeting was underway.
According to sources close to CSW, older people attending the prayer meeting were threatened, but not taken into custody. CSW said the detentions are part of a marked upsurge in a campaign of harassment of Christians of all denominations, with reports of a significant increase in arrests during recent weeks.
CSW said in other developments, Mohabat News Agency reported on Wednesday that five Christian converts detained in Adel-Abad prison eight months ago following a raid on a house church in Shiraz have been told they will face trial on Oct. 15.
Since their arrests, CSW said the five have reportedly been confined in cells housing dangerous criminals and are charged with "creating illegal groups," "participating in a house church service," "propagation against the Islamic regime," and "defaming Islamic holy figures through Christian evangelizing."
Most recently, seven Christians jailed in Rasht six years ago have received suspended five year sentences for "action against the national security."
CSW's Chief Executive Mervyn Thomas said in a news release, "CSW is deeply concerned at news of yet another increase in the harassment of Iranian Christians. We particularly deplore the nature of the charges that are currently being leveled against Christians and other religious minorities."
He added, "There appears to be an increasing tendency by the Iranian authorities to characterize legitimate religious activities as crimes against the state. In reality, people are being harassed merely on account of their faith. The ongoing harassment and imprisonment of Christians, Baha'is and other religious minorities contravenes international covenants to which Iran is a signatory, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which guarantees the right to freedom of religion."
Thomas continued, "By arresting Christians who have peaceably gathered to pray or worship, Iran is violating their right to manifest their religious belief. We urge the Iranian government to end the harassment of religious minorities within its borders, to respect their right to freedom of religion, and to release all who have been held on account of their faith immediately and unconditionally."
Christian Solidarity Worldwide works for religious freedom through advocacy and human rights, in the pursuit of justice.For further information, visit www.csw.org.uk.
Moabat News - 20 July 2012 - A house-church leader who had been arrested by security authorities because of his Christian faith together with some other Christian converts, has finally been released after 560 days in prison. During his imprisonment, he was put in solitary confinement and interrogated many times.
(MohabatNews) 11 July 2012 - A Christian convert and university student who was arrested after plain clothes Intelligence agents arrested him, spent 105 days in solitary confinement out of eight months' imprisonment in the worst mental conditions.
(Mohabat) 22 June 2012 - According to reporters of Iranian Christian news agency, « Mohabat News» , two Christian converts, Ladan N. and Hooman H. were released on June 10, 2012 after posting the demanded bail.
Bos News Life -13 June 2012 - TEHRAN, IRAN - Iran has released Pastor Mehdi “Petros” Foroutan who served about one year in prison following a police crackdown on his and other house churches, a spokesman told BosNewsLife late Tuesday, June 12.
Jason DeMars, who helped the 27-year-old pastor with advocacy, explained that Forouton was released Sunday, June 10.
He added that the pastor "In total served about one year in prison for 'crimes against national security' because of his Christian faith."
Additional death-sentence-carrying charges of "blasphemy", the word used for "abandoning Islam", were dropped, Christians said earlier.
The pastor, who is single and has no children, was initially detained in early 2010 "but released on bail" a month later in February, DeMars said.
In December of that year he was again taken into custody amid a massive police action against house churches, that also included the confiscation of his Christian literature from his, according to Christians.
Forouton was eventually sentenced and released on bail by mid-April, 2011, but returned to the Abel Abad Prison in the city of Shiraz on September 25, last year.
Sunday's release came amid an international outcry over his detention, amid reports he was held between drugs addicts and possible dealers.
DeMars, who leads the Present Truth Ministries advocacy group, suggested that he appeared in good health, despite his ordeal. "We give thanks to the Lord for preserving his life and health."
However he cautioned that several other pastors remain detained, including Youcef Nadarkhani, a married father of two who faces the death penalty for refusing to abandon his Christian faith and return to Islam.
He remains in Lakan Prison in the city of Rasht where he is still awaiting an official response from the local court about his future, DeMars said.
"As he waits, he remains strong in his hith faith and positive in his attitude."
Another Christian leader, Behnam Irani, is held in Ghezal Hezar prison in Karaj city, despite his poor health, Christians said.
Yet, "even though he is in poor health his faith remains strong. He is suffering from bloody stool and has some problems with his eyesight," DeMars explained.
Prison officials reportedly refuse to allow him to visit a doctor.
DeMars said his group had urged Christians to "Pray for his healing for God to make a way for [the] release" of this married father with two children.
Iranian officials have consistently denied wrongdoing, saying they upheld Islamic values in this strict Islamic nation. Critics say the reported detentions are linked to the concerns within the government over the growth of Christianity in the country.
Article By BosNewsLife Middle East Service with reporting by BosNewsLife's Stefan J. Bos
Mohabat News - 7 June 2012 - A Christian couple who were presbyters and teachers in Immanuel Evangelical Church were arrested following an attack on their home by plain clothes security authorities. No information is available on their health condition or their whereabouts since their arrest.
http://www.mohabatnews.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=4710:evangelical-christian-couple-arrested-in-karaj&catid=36:iranian-christians&Itemid=279 Click to add text, images, and other content
FCNN - 4 June 2012 - Tehran - On Monday May 28th 2012, Mr. Mehrdad Sajadi, prominent elder of Immanuel Church in Tehran; seized with his wife by Islamic Republic’s Ministry of State Security agents.
Farsi Christian News Network
(Mohabat News) 03 May 2012 -Following a series of orchestrated and coordinated attacks by the secret agents of the ministry of Information in Isfahan that resulted in the arrest of a Christian pastor and several newly converted believers, some of the detainees were temporarily released after more than 2 months of captivity by posting bail and agreeing to strict conditions.
The recent waves of attacks and arrests of Christians in Isfahan and other cities in Iran by the security apparatus of the government is a desperate attempt to curb the ever-increasing interest and conversion of many Iranians by creating an atmosphere of fear and terror in the hearts of the Iranian population.
(Mohabat News) The conditional release of newly converted Christians , after posing bail, from prison in Isfahan http://mohabatnews.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=4475:the-conditional-release-of-newly-converted-christiansafter-posting-bailfrom-prison-of-isfahan&catid=36:iranian-christians&Itemid=279
(MohabatNews) 30 April 2012 - According to reporters of Iranian Christian news agency, Mohabat News, Fariborz Arazm, a Christian convert, was conditionally released after six months imprisonment in notorious Evin prison.News sources told Mohabat News that a court announced he was charged with being in contact with missionaries and also of promoting the Christian faith among Iranian Muslims.
(ASSIST) 24 April 2012 - Farshid Fathi, a Christian prisoner who had been held in the notorious Evin prison for 15 months without being granted any leave permission, has been sentenced to 6-years in prison by a Revolutionary Court in Iran.
Mohabat News says that although the details of his court session have not been published, a knowledgeable source according to the issued verdict said that the court announced his accusations as, "action against the regime's security, being in contact with foreign organizations and religious propaganda."
The source told Mohabat News that Fathi's case will be sent to an appeal court after his attorney submits his appeal of the 6-year prison sentence. The source believes that the appeal court might change this ruling.
This sentence has been issued after Mr. Fathi was held in custody illegally and in total uncertainty for the past 15 months, the news agency said.
Mohabat News says that “issuance of such an unjustified sentence by the Islamic Republic's judicial system for a Christian convert whose only crime is practicing his Christian faith, contravenes international laws and the Human Rights convention that the Islamic Republic has signed and is obliged to follow.”
Fathi is currently held in the ward 350 of Evin prison, the news agency reported.
According to the news agency report, Fathi has spent several months in solitary confinement and has never received a leave permission during his imprisonment.
“In order to put more mental pressure on him as Norouz celebrations were approaching, the interrogators and prison guards agreed to temporarily free him, but as he was about to leave the ward 209, they stopped and returned him to his cell in solitary confinement,” the agency stated.
Mohabat News says Fathi was born in 1979. He is married and the father of two children. Fathi was arrested by security authorities in Tehran on December 26, 2010 as part of a crackdown before New Year celebrations.
The news agency stated that some 60 Christian citizens and members of house churches in Tehran and other cities were arrested during that highly coordinated and pre-organized attack by security authorities. The accusations announced to the families of these Christian detainees were as follows, “conversion (apostasy), evangelism, having contact with Christian organizations.”
(ASSIST) Iranian Christian Sentenced by Revolutionary Court http://www.assistnews.net/Stories/2012/s12040119.htm Article by Michael Ireland
(PTM) 15 March 2012 - Brother Alireza Seyyedian was arrested March 14, 2012 at the Turkish/Iranian border while attempting to flee Iran. Earlier this year he was sentenced to six years in prison for action against national security and propaganda against the order. He was accused of collusion, holding church meetings in order to perform crimes against national security, distributing Bibles amongst the youth, propaganda for the Jesus only cult (as the others a false charge), and having communication with Zionist satellite channels like Mohabat and Radio Mojde, including sharing worship hymns that he has written.
(MohabatNews) 06 March 2012 - Thirteen Christian converts have been arrested following an attack by security authorities on a house church in Iran. Three of them are being held in custody at an unknown location, according to Mohabat News (www.mohabatnews.com ) .
The news agency says that February 21, 2012, at 7 in the evening, security authorities raided a home dedicated to be used a house church and seized all thirteen gathered there for worship. To date, no precise news is available regarding some of these detainees.
Mohabat News says that during this incident, security authorities who were wearing plain clothes transferred these Christians to an unknown location while insulting and abusing them.
The authorities also invaded and thoroughly searched the detainees' homes and confiscated some of their personal belongings.
Numerous Christian converts have already been arrested in various cities in their house church gatherings, homes or workplaces by order of judicial and security authorities of the Islamic Republic of Iran, as a result of the continued anti-Christian wave in Iran during past months.
Now, in addition to Ahwaz, Shiraz, Esfahan and Tehran, this on-going wave has reached the city Kermanshah, 526 KMs west of Tehran, in the western part of Iran.
A knowledgeable source told Mohabat News that the Christian detainees may have been transferred to a building in Hafezieh Junction in Kermanshah or 22-Bahman Street which is known as the location of security and intelligence forces.
The source said that nine of these detainees (their names are not given due to security reasons) were released the next day after their photos were taken, their details and fingerprints recorded and they signed a disclaimer stating they would not attend any Christian gatherings.
Mohabat News also received word that Ms. Azadeh Sharifi was released on February 28 after enduring 8 days in custody. As yet, no detailed information has been received regarding the way she was released.
Three other detainees, Mehdi Chaghakaboudi, Mojtaba Baba-Karami and Shirin Ghanbari, however, are still being held. Some of the named Christians had also been arrested by security authorities before.
The source also stated that on February 28, Ms. Shirin Ghanbari and Mojtaba Baba-Karami were permitted to have a brief contact with their families telling them that they are in a good health. However, it seems that they were prevented by prison authorities from giving any additional information or details on their situation.
Mohahbat News further says that Masoud Delijani, a Christian convert resident of Kermanshah and a member of a house church, was sentenced to three years in prison by the Revolutionary Court of Kermanshah for the charges of having faith in Christianity, holding illegal house church gatherings, evangelizing Muslims and action against national security. He is currently being held in Deizal-Abad prison in Kermanshah to serve his sentence.
Prior to this, on January 2, 2010, the official Pentecostal church of Assyrians in Kermanshah was also closed by the order of the judicial and security authorities for spreading Christianity among Farsi-speaking Muslims and for preaching the gospel. Security authorities also arrested the pastor of the church, Wilson Isavi on February 2, 2010. He was temporarily released on bail after 54 days in Dastgerd prison in Esfahan.
Mohabat News states: "With the growth in the number of Iranian converts to Christianity in recent years, and the increased pressure by the Islamic government on Christians, especially Christian converts, the Islamic Republic is seeking to stop the growth of house churches in Iran by any means.
"The Islamic Republic considers the growth of Christianity as a religious threat against its national security and is greatly concerned about the spread of the truth of the gospel among the people."
(Presenttruth) 21 February 2012 -
Brother Behnam Irani, who is in prison in Karaj, Iran, for “crimes” against the Islamic order, is in ill health. He is experiencing some sort of intestinal disorder. His family is very concerned because his brother died from intestinal cancer. I ask that you pray for complete healing for brother Behnam. As you pray remember in faith that Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever.
Pastor Mehdi Karbalaee who left the country is waiting for his trial to take place in Tehran. He will be put on trial without him being present for it. I ask that you pray for this pastor as he is facing some difficult times regarding the bail that was posted for him and his residency in the country he has fled to.
Pastor Matthias Haghnejad who was acquitted for crimes against the order in a Bandar Anzali court is now being put on trial again for the same crime. There were 11 others put on trial with him and they are now going to have to go to court for the second time. They are Anahita Khadeimi (the wife of Matthias), Mahmoud Khosh-Hal and his wife Hava Saadetmend, Amir Goldoust, Mina Goldoust, Zhaina Bahremand, Fatemah Modir-Nouri, Mehrdad Habibzade, Milad Radef, Behzad Taalipasand and Amin Pishkar. Their second trial after being acquitted of these crimes previously will be one month from now in March.
(Presenttruth) Continued persecution in Iran http://presenttruthmn.com/
(ASSIST/ Mohabat) - 13 February 2012 - Plain clothes security authorities have raided an Iranian house church gathering and arrested 10 members of this Christian group who were gathered for prayer service in Shiraz, Fars province, which is 580 miles south of the capital. All 10 detainees were transferred to an unknown location.
Mojtaba Hosseini, a Christian convert who was among those arrested
“These believers who had gathered in a home to hold a worship service were arrested and transferred to an unknown location using a police vehicle,” said a spokesperson for Mohabat News.
“The location of the detainees is still unknown despite their family's efforts. The authorities refuse to give any information in this regard.”
Although precise details are still not available in this respect, the report from Mohabat News indicates that a man called Mojtaba Hosseini is among those arrested. He was also arrested on May 11, 2008, together with eight other Christian converts on charges of “having a Christian faith.” Security officials had asked the then 21-year-old, Mojtaba Hosseini to renounce his faith and collaborate with the Intelligence office.
“It is also noteworthy that last month reports were published regarding the arrest of a number of Christians in the AOG church of Ahwaz including the pastor of the church and two other church members,” said the spokesperson.
“Today, the pressures and security measures implemented by the Islamic Republic against churches in Iran have resulted in the closure of churches in which services were being held in Farsi. The other churches, which are allowed to remain open, are obliged by order of the Intelligence Ministry to prevent Farsi speakers from entering their churches.”
The spokesperson added, “In spite of all these circumstances, when people from other religious backgrounds embrace Christianity, they feel the need to gather in small groups in their homes and dedicate their own personal houses for worship services. The Islamic Republic of Iran considers such groups security and spying tools for the West.”
(ASSIST/ Mohabat) Iran: 10 Converts arrested during raid on house church http://www.assistnews.net/Stories/2012/s12020049.htm Article by Dan Wooding
(MohabatNews) 06 February 2012 - Concern is growing in Iran over health condition of Pastor Farhad Sabokroh who was arrested together with two other Christian converts. They have now been in custody for over 40 days.
According to the Iranian Christian news agency, Mohabat News (www.mohabatnews.com), family, relatives and a wide range of Iranian Christians within and outside Iran expressed their concern over the health condition of Pastor Farhad Sabokroh, who was arrested on December 23, 2011, with others in attendance at the Christmas service of the Assemblies of God (AOG) church of Ahwaz, where he was pastoring.
According to this report, sources affirmed that Pastor Sabokroh, Naser Zamen-Defzuli and Davoud (David) Alijani were transferred to Karoun prison of Ahwaz. They have now been held in prison for over 40 days. They were arrested by security authorities in Ahwaz, (543 miles south west of Tehran, the Capital), which is in Khuzestan province.
"Prior to his arrest, Pastor Sabokroh was under treatment for cataract disease and underwent surgery but now has no access to a doctor," a spokesperson for Mohabat News told the ASSIST News Service.
"Knowledgeable sources define his situation concerning this because, after the surgery, he needed to visit his doctor on a regular basis for the required medications. Now, with this situation, he is still not allowed to leave the prison after over 40 days to continue his treatment."
Christian Prisoners' Rights Advocacy Club sent a report to Mohabat News expressing their deep concern and objection to illegal and inhuman acts by the Iranian Security system towards Iranian Christians, especially Pastor Sabokroh and the two other Christian prisoners who are being held with him.
(MohabtNews)(ASSIST) Iran: Concern over health conditions of Pastor Farhad Sabokroh in prison http://www.assistnews.net/Stories/2012/s12020030.htm
(ASSIST) 31 January 2012 - A Christian convert whom security authorities arrested in her home has been sentenced to two years in prison by the Revolutionary Court in Tehran.
According to a report sent to the ASSIST News Service by the Iranian Christian news agency, Mohabat News (http://www.mohabatnews.com/), Ms. Leila Mohammadi, a Christian convert who resided east of Tehran, was sentenced to two years of imprisonment after enduring five months of uncertainty in notorious Evin prison.
The story went on to say that her trial was held on January 18, 2012, in the Revolutionary Court in Moalem street where she was charged with “collaboration with foreign-dependent groups, broad anti-Islamic propaganda, deceiving citizens by formation of what is called a house church, Insulting sacred figures and action against national security.”
“However she was acquitted of collaboration with foreign-dependent groups because the judge believed she had done that unintentionally. For the other charges she was sentenced to two years in prison and the ruling was delivered to her,” said Mohabat News.
“After the verdict was issued knowledgeable sources reported that her attorney announced that the case was sent to the high court of Tehran province to be reviewed.”
Leila Mohammadi, was arrested after a number of security agents raided her home on 30 July, 2011 at 10:30 P.M. in Kianshahr town, east of Tehran. The agents thoroughly searched her house and also confiscated some of her belongings.
Ms. Mohammadi was taken to Horr custody center which belongs to the Iranian police forces. From there, she was transferred to Evin prison. On December 28, 2011, she was released on a bail of $150,000 USD after 74 days in harsh conditions in solitary confinement in Evin prison.
“It is being reported that some other people were also arrested in relation to this case,” said the news agency. “According to this report, some days after Ms. Mohammadi’s arrest, another person called Parviz G. was also arrested by security agents.
“Again, in this case they thoroughly searched Parviz G's house and seized his belongings including his computer. He was freed after spending three days in Evin custody center and being subjected to interrogations and signing a disclaimer. It seems that his arrest was related to evangelical activities of his wife ‘Masoumeh’ who was linked to the case of Leila Mohammadi."
(ASSIST) Iranian Christian convert sentenced to two years in prison http://www.assistnews.net/Stories/2012/s12010160.htm Article by Dan Wooding
(WorthyNews) 03 January 2012 - A Christian woman who was detained as part of Iran's crackdown on devoted Christian converts has been released after more than nine months imprisonment, but concerns remain over other jailed believers, Worthy News learned January 1.
Shahla Rahmati, the director of "a successful electronics company", was freed December 20 following 287 days behind bars in mainly Tehran's notorious Evin Prison, confirmed Elam Ministries, a mission group founded by Iranian church leaders.Iranian Christians said she was sentenced to at least two and a half years imprisonment on charges such as "membership of an illegal group", in reference to her Christian activities.An appeal court apparently overturned her conviction, Christians said, but it was not immediately clear when that ruling was made. Rights groups and lawyers have complained that Iran's judiciary is often clouded in secrecy.
In a statement, released by Elam Ministries, her family expressed concerns about her health saying "Shahla needs immediate medical attention as her blood pressure is still dangerously low" following alleged prison mistreatment.
Since her detention on March 9 last year she was reportedly kept in solitary confinement for five months. She was then moved to "an overcrowded cell which she shared with about 80 hardened criminals and drug addicts", stressed Elam Ministries. "Here her health deteriorated [as] her blood pressure dropped to
very low levels."Her family said they "thank all Christians for their faithful intercession for her release" but concerns remained over two other Christian women who were detained with Shahla Rahmati.Maryam Jalili and Mitra Zahmati, were transferred to the women's section of the Evin prison three months ago, explained Mohabat News, a news agency of Iranian Christians and activists.
"It has been reported that Ms. Zahmati was also sentenced to two and a half years in prison [like Rahmati] while Ms. Jalili remains in custody with her fate unknown," it said.
Elsewhere in the country Iranian Christians, including former Muslims, were also detained this Christmas season, including Farshid Fathi-Malayeri, "an enthusiastic church leader", Elam Ministries said. The father of two was reportedly arrested December 26, though more details were not immediately available.Additionally, concerns remain over a senior evangelical pastor and his wife who were detained in southern Iran after security forces raided their Assemblies of God-affiliated church, detaining everyone in the building, including children attending Sunday School, a friend of the couple told Worthy News earlier.
"Pastor Farhad Sabokrouh and his wife Shahnaz were among those detained in the southern town of Ahwaz Friday morning, [December 23] while they were having Christmas celebrations", explained their friend, Firouz Khandjani.
He said security forces pushed dozens of worshipers, including children, into two buses and brought them to a local police station. Most were eventually released, "but the pastor and his wife remain in jail," Khandjani said.Mohabat News said at least four Christians remain detained of the church. Among others behind bars is Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani, whose case received international media attention, after he was sentenced to death for refusing to abandon his faith in Christ and return to Islam.
A lawyer and other observers close to the case said they learned from the court that judges were ordered to "do nothing" for one year in hope he would eventually deny his faith in Christ.However, "It has become clear that Iran's government may want to execute him earlier," Khandjani stressed. "Saying he will be held one year more does not necessarily mean an earlier execution isn't possible."
Iranian officials have denied wrongdoing, saying they defend "Islamic values". Christians linked the reported crackdown to concerns among Iran's government about the spread of Christianity in the strict Islamic nation.There are at least 100,000 devoted Christians in Iran, many of them former Muslims, according to conservative estimates, while some church groups estimate that number to be several times higher.
Officially 98 percent of Iran's roughly 78 million people are Muslims, said the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).
(BosNewsLife) 30 November 2011 - Iran has ordered three evangelical house church pastors to report to prison within a month and serve lengthy jail terms on charges linked to their Christian activities, a well-informed source told BosNewsLife late Tuesday, November 29.
Pastors Parviz Khalaj, Mohammed “William” Belyad and Behrouz Sadegh Khandjani, of the Church of Iran movement, are due to start serving their sentences in the southwestern city of Shiraz in "30 days" said Jason DeMars, director of advocacy group Present Truth Ministries, which has close contacts with Iranian Christians.
"Parviz has two convictions for crimes against the order and is to serve two years. William Belyad was previously convicted of crimes against the order and sentenced to five years in prison. He will [receive an additional one year] to serve a total of 6 years. Behrouz is expected to serve one year in prison," on related charges he added.
He said his group had urged its supporters to pray as "each of these brothers has a family that will need our prayers." Khalaj he added, "is married to Elahe" with 10-yea- old son Samuel. Belyad leaves behind his wife Nazly and their one-month-old son Ariel, while Khandjani will have his wife Miriam and their 7-year old daughter Esperance waiting for him, De Mars explained.
DeMars stressed that he has learned that their attorney is still "working to find a solution" for them. "There is still a chance that they would not be required to serve their sentences." DeMars did not elaborate.
He said he wasn't surprised that the order came as Christians prepare for Christmas. "Based upon past experience, Christmas is a time of increased persecution in Iran."
Tuesday's reported order came shortly after the European Union urged Iran to release House of Iran Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani who is facing the death penalty for refusing to recant his faith in Christ and return to Islam.
Nadarkhani, one of hundreds of believers detained in Iran, "already spent two years behind bars and was sentenced to death because he became a Christian and tried to register his house church," said Peter van Dalen of Dutch party ChristenUnie, or ChristianUnion (CU), in the EU's European Parliament.
The 34-year-old Nadarkhani, who is married with two children, was detained in his home city of Rasht in October 2009 while trying to register his 400-member house church.
(BosNewsLife) Iran orders pastors to serve prison terms
(MohabatNews) 04 Nov 2011 - According to reporters of Iranian Christian news agency, Mohabat News, Noorollah Qabitizade, a Christian convert and a house church leader was not allowed to contact his family during the first month of his imprisonment. His condition inside the prison was also unknown. During that first month, he was subjected to intense interrogation in an attempt to force him to renounce his Christian faith and return to Islam. They applied mental pressure on him to sign commitments to not evangelize, to repent his decision to leave Islam, and to renounce his Christian faith.
Although the judicial and security authorities had promised to release Noorollah after writing a repentance disclaimer, Noorollah was unwilling to do so.
According to Mohabat News sources, despite the pressure Mr. Qabitizade not only didn't give up his hope but he even tried to share his faith with other prisoners and organized some prayer meetings inside the Dezful prison where he was being held initially. This made the prison guards so angry they transferred him to the prison of Ahwaz (162 KM south of Dezful). Noorollah said that the transfer resulted from his speaking about Jesus with other prisoners.
His first trial was held two months ago in the courthouse of the city Ahwaz in the first criminal branch and Mr. Poor Mohammadian presided at that session. "Noorollah's hands and feet were chained as he arrived in court" said an eyewitness. The mental pressure on him increased when he was told that his death sentence would be issued in this trial. At the end of the session they also offered him another opportunity to renounce his Christian faith and return to Islam so that his punishment would be reduced.
It's necessary to note here that on Friday, December 24, 2010, ten new Christians from the city of Dezful (700 KM south-east of Tehran) were about to celebrate Christmas Eve with fellow Christians from Ahwaz and Andimeshk. However they were all arrested by security forces including pastor Noorollah Qabitizade, the host of that night's house church celebrations. He, along with ten others, was transferred, hand-cuffed and blind folded, to a safe house in the centre of Dezful.
Other detainees from the cities of Ahwaz and Andimeshk were interrogated about their conversion to Christianity. They were asked to name their Christian friends and tell what they knew about them, and then how they knew Mr. Qabitizade. They were all released that night after being finger-printed and asked to report to the office of Ministry of Information in the city of their residence the next morning.
(Mohabat News) 25 Oct 2011 - According to the reporter of Christian News Agency, Mohabat News, Fariborz Arazm, a Christian convert who resides in the city of Robat-Karim was arrested by the Islamic republic officials.
(ANS) 31 Aug 2011 - Pastor Vahik Abrahamian, a 45-year-old Armenian Christian, was released from prison during the morning of Monday, August 29, 2011, after suffering greatly behind bars for a year, and has now rejoined his family. Pastor Vahik Abrahamian pictured with his wife Sonia before they were arrested Pastor Vahik and his wife, together with family friends, Arash and Arezou, were all held for 44 days in solitary confinement in the Iranian Ministry of Information’s detention center. “In this period all were subjected to intensive interrogation and severe mental and psychological torture without any permission to contact family or friends,” a spokesperson for FCCN told the ASSIST News Service (http://www.assistnews.net/). “They were then moved to the Hamedan prison’s general ward and after eight months of ordeal they were proven not guilty in a court hearing and subsequently Sonia, Arash and Arezou were released on April 30, 2010, but Pastor Vahik was held back until now.” During his one year imprisonment, FCNN obtained reports of Pastor Abrahamian’s poor health and also about the prison’s “deplorable hygiene conditions which made family, friends and entire Christian community extremely concerned.” The FCCN spokesperson went on to say, “This anxiety was heightened upon the release of the three other prisoners. The Christian community worldwide, particularly the Iranian Christian community has been faithfully holding Pastor Vahik in prayers. The news of worldwide prayer was a cause of comfort and strength and encouragement for the immediate family in Iran and overseas. “It is noteworthy to note that despite his obtaining citizenship in the Netherlands and the possibility of leading a comfortable life there, Pastor Vahik Abrahamian opted to return to his beloved country and he and his wife Sonia dedicated their efforts and meager resources to reach out and assist drug addicts and all sorts of abused people in the society. “Vahik, having been miraculously touched by Christ his Lord and Savior, considered of utmost priority and privilege to reach out to the outcasts and down-casts of the society. “It is ironic that the authorities, despite witnessing the pure motives, selfless attitude and indeed the wonderful result of Vahik and Sonia’s sacrificial efforts, instead of offering support and assistance arrested him on February 2010 and held him on trumped-up charges in the infamous Evin prison for 53 days in solitary confinement and 5 days in the general ward. “He was released after his family and friends posted a cash bail of 10 million Toomans pending his trial,” added the FCCN spokesperson. “Vahik and Sonia had already moved out to Hamedan to live peacefully and serve the community away from the clutter of the capital and were indeed in their own home with one other couple when they were suddenly arrested.” An extended member of Vahik and Sonia Abrahamian’s family has told FCNN that the whole family is “rejoicing” and “expressed their gratitude first to God for His gracious protection and intervention and secondly to the Christian family worldwide who have not ceased praying and advocating on their behalf.” “FCNN would like to add its thankfulness to all who have been raising awareness and prayers in churches and writing notes and letters of encouragement and support,” stated the spokesperson. “Let’s pray for other Christians still held in captivity particularly for Farshid Fathi who has been held in Evin prison for over six months. "Vahik and Sonia have refrained speaking with anyone outside immediate family hence it has not been possible to ascertain his physical and emotional wellbeing. “FCNN would like to ask all to pray for Vahik and Sonia’s and Arash and Arezou’s physical and emotional healing,” concluded the spokesperson.
According to the Farsi Christian News Network (http://www.fcnn.com/), Pastor Abrahamian was arrested by security agents, together with his wife Sonia Keshish Avanessian, on Saturday September 4, 2010, in his home in Hamedan, which is believed to be among the oldest Iranian cities and one of the most ancient in the world.
Pastor Vahik Abrahamian pictured with his wife Sonia before they were arrested
Pastor Vahik and his wife, together with family friends, Arash and Arezou, were all held for 44 days in solitary confinement in the Iranian Ministry of Information’s detention center.
“In this period all were subjected to intensive interrogation and severe mental and psychological torture without any permission to contact family or friends,” a spokesperson for FCCN told the ASSIST News Service (http://www.assistnews.net/).
“They were then moved to the Hamedan prison’s general ward and after eight months of ordeal they were proven not guilty in a court hearing and subsequently Sonia, Arash and Arezou were released on April 30, 2010, but Pastor Vahik was held back until now.”
During his one year imprisonment, FCNN obtained reports of Pastor Abrahamian’s poor health and also about the prison’s “deplorable hygiene conditions which made family, friends and entire Christian community extremely concerned.”
The FCCN spokesperson went on to say, “This anxiety was heightened upon the release of the three other prisoners. The Christian community worldwide, particularly the Iranian Christian community has been faithfully holding Pastor Vahik in prayers. The news of worldwide prayer was a cause of comfort and strength and encouragement for the immediate family in Iran and overseas.
“It is noteworthy to note that despite his obtaining citizenship in the Netherlands and the possibility of leading a comfortable life there, Pastor Vahik Abrahamian opted to return to his beloved country and he and his wife Sonia dedicated their efforts and meager resources to reach out and assist drug addicts and all sorts of abused people in the society.
“Vahik, having been miraculously touched by Christ his Lord and Savior, considered of utmost priority and privilege to reach out to the outcasts and down-casts of the society.
“It is ironic that the authorities, despite witnessing the pure motives, selfless attitude and indeed the wonderful result of Vahik and Sonia’s sacrificial efforts, instead of offering support and assistance arrested him on February 2010 and held him on trumped-up charges in the infamous Evin prison for 53 days in solitary confinement and 5 days in the general ward.
“He was released after his family and friends posted a cash bail of 10 million Toomans pending his trial,” added the FCCN spokesperson. “Vahik and Sonia had already moved out to Hamedan to live peacefully and serve the community away from the clutter of the capital and were indeed in their own home with one other couple when they were suddenly arrested.”
An extended member of Vahik and Sonia Abrahamian’s family has told FCNN that the whole family is “rejoicing” and “expressed their gratitude first to God for His gracious protection and intervention and secondly to the Christian family worldwide who have not ceased praying and advocating on their behalf.”
“FCNN would like to add its thankfulness to all who have been raising awareness and prayers in churches and writing notes and letters of encouragement and support,” stated the spokesperson. “Let’s pray for other Christians still held in captivity particularly for Farshid Fathi who has been held in Evin prison for over six months.
"Vahik and Sonia have refrained speaking with anyone outside immediate family hence it has not been possible to ascertain his physical and emotional wellbeing.
“FCNN would like to ask all to pray for Vahik and Sonia’s and Arash and Arezou’s physical and emotional healing,” concluded the spokesperson.
(PresebtTruth) 30 Aug 2011 -We give thanks to God that brother Matthias Haghnejad was released from prison on bail today, Saturday August 27th! A family member pledged their property so that he could get out of prison. Thank you for praying for him and for all who helped make this known throughout the world. God worked through your prayers and made a way for his release.
(PresentTruth) 18 Aug 2011 - Brother Matthias Haghnejad, from Bandar-e Anzali, Iran was arrested around 11:00 AM CST on August 17, 2011 in Rasht.
He was in the home of a friend and was arrested there. You may recall, recently, he was acquitted of the charge of activities against the Order. More details on the charges against him and his current circumstances will follow, God willing.
Pray for his safety and quick release.
19 July 2011 - Masoud Delijani one of the Christians converts who was arrested in Kermanshah simultaneous with the widespread Christians apprehension all over the country, was released temporarily on bail after 114 days in detention and also solitary cell.
June 24, 2011 - Increased public statements against Christianity in Iran have intensified pressures on Christians, sources said, but at their core they reflect Islamic leaders’ dismay with the growth of house churches and may signal dissension within Iran’s leadership.
“The reality is most of the house churches are so hidden that the government can’t do anything, and they know it,” said a regional expert who requested anonymity. “They just see how the house churches are still growing.”The source said that since mass arrests at the beginning of this year, Christians have been more cautious. Another Iranian Christian, a pastor, said the comments likely foretell more arrests.“I believe that a new wave of persecution is underway,” he said. “The authorities are in the process of evaluating the situation.”
Some sources told Compass the comments of Islamic leaders may indicate a power struggle between Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. This bodes ill for Christians and minorities in general, they said.
“When there is conflict in the government and division, then all the minorities will have a hard time,” said another Christian Iranian who requested anonymity. “If, for example, Ayatollah [Mohammad Taghi Mesbah] Yazdi says ‘We have to end the Christian movement,’ as he said a few weeks ago, that is enough for his followers in the government to go and arrest Christians.” In May Yazdi said authorities have not done enough to quench the growth of Christian house churches, considering the “massive funding” the government has spent toward that end. Yazdi made his statement in a meeting with the heads of the Islamic Propagation Center of Qom. His statement was originally publicized on the Iranian Student News Agency website, according to Iranian Christian news agency Mohabat News. Given the “the growth of Christianity in some of the provinces, the actions taken by the government and the judicial authorities, and the massive funding of such programs, the desired results have not been achieved, and this is partly due to the undisciplined attitude and lack of proper supervision of these programs,” Yazdi reportedly said. Yazdi suggested that the government set up a central system to monitor and coordinate the suppression of churches.
Another Christian source said the political situation in Iran is too complicated to predict future arrests on the basis of religious leaders’ public statements. The source, who requested anonymity, said that Yazdi is one of Iran’s most influential clerics and receives government funds to carry out his work. This year he has received a fraction of the funds he has in the past. His public statement could be a request for more money, the source said. “Maybe he’s just asking for more money,” said the source. “There are elements that indicate there could be another wave of arrests, but maybe he’s saying something different: ‘We should be changing our tactics [against Christians], so I need more money.’”
Today Mohabat reported that a faculty member of Mehdi Seminary in Qom claimed that “the enemies of Islam” are providing US$50,000 a year to some house churches. The general director of comparative religious studies, Hojatoleslam Tarashioon, was speaking at the seminary in Qom, the country’s Shiite center and breeding ground for Iran’s Islamic clerics and leaders. “This cult in recent years has become active, and today they work under the pretext of cultural and educational centers and have expanded their activities in several provinces,” Tarashioon said, according to Mohabat.
Religious leaders also publicly attacked the country’s underground house church movement last fall. In October, Khamenei said Iran’s enemies wanted to shake the country’s religious and societal values through the spread of Baha’ism and a network of Christian house churches.Experts believe these public attacks on Christians, and particularly Khamenei’s, resulted in authorities arresting over 120 Iranian Christians between December and January. Most of those detained were converts from Islam.
Still in Prison
Of those arrested at the beginning of this year, all but three were released, according to a recent report from the Elam Ministries.
Farshid Fathi, 32, has been incarcerated since Dec. 26, 2010 at the notorious Evin prison in Tehran. Authorities refuse to release him and have pressed no formal charges. They have kept Fathi in solitary confinement for months and have used psychological torture methods on him to extract more information on Christian networks in Iran. They have allowed him to speak to his family only once a week, according to Mohabat. Fathi is married and has two children.
Authorities have kept Abrahim Firuzi in prison at Robat Karim near Tehran since Jan. 8, according to Elam. They charged him with evangelizing, keeping many copies of the Bible and apostasy, or leaving Islam, reported the ministry. His family is unable to pay bail.
Another Christian, Noorollah Ghabitizadeh, has been in prison since Dec. 24, 2010, in Defzul in western Iran, according to Elam.
A fourth Christian, Masoud Delijani, was arrested on March 17 in Kermanshah and remains in prison.
Ethnic Armenian Christian Vahik Abrahamian has been in prison since Sept. 4, 2010. On May 1 authorities released his wife, Sonia Keshish-Avanesian, who was imprisoned with him, according to Elam. Abrahamian also spent two months in prison between February and April of last year. He was released on bail and re-arrested in September.
Yousef Naderkhani, a Christian from Rasht, has been in prison since October 2009. Authorities found him guilty of apostasy on Nov. 13, 2010, and handed him the death penalty. His lawyer has filed an appeal with the Supreme Court, and Nadarkhani is awaiting a trial date. Authorities have allegedly treated Nadarkhani harshly, both physically and mentally.
On May 31, authorities arrested another Christian, Behnam Irani of Karaj, according to a reliable source.
Iran’s Constitution gives Christians “protected” religious minority status, but in practice they face substantial societal discrimination, according to the U.S. Department of State’s International Religious Freedom Report 2010.
June 10, 2011 - The fate of an Iranian Christian prisoner remained unclear Friday, June 10, nearly nine months after he was detained by security forces as part of a reported government crackdown on devoted Christians in this strict Islamic nation.
Farshid Fathi, 32, who lives in Tehran, was arrested September 26 "and remains in custody in the political prison ward of" Tehran's Evin Prison, reported Mohabat News, an Iranian Christian news agency.Unlike most other Christians detained in recent police raids on homes, Farshid has remained jailed for months, claimed Mohabat News, which has close ties with Iranian Christians. "Of the more than 60 believers rounded up in [other raids in] December, half were released within hours of their arrests," the agency told BosNewsLife.
Iranian Christians say Farshid was targeted because of his evangelism activities and alleged foreign contacts. He has reportedly been subjected to what Iranian Christians call "psychological torture by security forces and interrogators" as part of Iran's efforts to obtain a list of his contacts and of those who responded to his Gospel message.Among controversial tactics used was temporarily releasing Farshid and then immediately re-arresting him and putting him in solitary confinement, according to Iranian Christians with close knowledge about the case.
The situation is difficult fir his two young children, Rosana and Barbod, "who have not seen or heard from their dad in five months," Mohabat News added.The high bail amount set by authorities leaves the family unable to pay for his release, according to Christians familiar with the case. His family facing financial pressures "have been forced to sell Farshid's father-in-law's home in order to survive this period of difficulty," Mohabat News said.
Iranian officials have not responded to these claims, and there have been no known court order or instructions issued in his case.Rights activists say however that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's government is concerned about the spread of Christianity among Muslims at a time of political upheaval in the Arab world. "Because Iran is a strategic gateway nation, the growing church in Iran will impact Muslim nations across the Islamic world," said Elam Ministries, a group of Iranian church leaders in a recent assessment.
It claimed that the number of Christians has grown from 500 known believers in 1979 to at least 100,000 today. Church leaders have reportedly said that "millions" can be added "to the church in the next few years-such is the spiritual hunger that exists and the disillusionment with the Islamic regime."
The blasphemy trial of five members from the Church of Iran has been adjourned due to a lack of evidence.
According to a news release from human rights group Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW), the trial of Pastor Behrouz Sadegh-Khandjani, Mehdi Furutan, Mohammad Beliad, Parviz Khalaj and Nazly Beliad has been adjourned until April 12 in order to give the prosecution more time to gather evidence.
CSW said lawyers representing the five men have consistently maintained that there are no legal grounds for the blasphemy charges, and remain optimistic that the case will eventually be dismissed.
According to the news release from CSW, in an earlier trial at the Revolutionary Court in Shiraz, the five men were handed a one-year sentence for Crimes against the Islamic Order, which their legal team believes will also be withdrawn on appeal.
CSW's National Director Stuart Windsor said in the news release, "CSW urges the Iranian government to ensure that these men receive due process, and are acquitted of all charges that have no legal bearing under Iranian law."
He added, "However, we remain concerned for Pastor Yousef Nadarkhani, who awaits an appeal against his death sentence for apostasy, and for the seven Baha'i leaders detained since 2008, who recently had their 20-year prison sentence reinstated, despite already enduring 30 months of detention without trial. The international community must press Iran to end the arbitrary arrest and imprisonment of religious minorities purely on account of their faith."Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) works for religious freedom through advocacy and human rights.
By Jeremy Reynalds - Senior Correspondent for ASSIST News Service
IRAN (ANS) -- Iranian security forces have stormed a house church and arrested 10 members.
According to the Iranian Christian News Agency Mohabat News, the incident occurred on March 17, when 17 security officers stormed a house in the city of Kermanshah and arrested 10 Christians.
Kermanshah is located in the western part of Iran near Iraqi border, 590 KM from Tehran.
Mohabat News said while there has been no explanation offered by the Iranian Government's security sources, it is likely that these 10 house church members were arrested because of their Christian beliefs and participation in church gatherings. That, the news agency commented, is is in line with the recent wave of repressive actions taken by the government against Iranian Christians.
Mohabat News said the house was a place for new believers to get together for praise and worship. Intelligence Ministry agents used excessive force to arrest the Christians, and they were then handcuffed and moved to an undisclosed location.
Mohabat News said there is a good reason for Christian believers in Iran worshiping in private homes. The country's theocratic government does not allow Farsi speaking Christians to have a church building as a place of worship.
Mohabat News said security forces also searched the home and collected Christian paintings, Bibles, DVDs, a computer case and personal identifications.
Mohabat News said the agency was informed that seven of the detainees were released on March 18 after long hours of interrogation. The release occurred after they were pictured and finger printed, and signed an affidavit saying they would never participate in such (Christian) events again.
There is no word about the well being of those who remain in custody or where they are.
Mohabat News said a well placed source says the families of the individuals still imprisoned have unsuccessfully asked the authorities for information on their loved ones.
Mohabat News said prior to this incident, an elderly Christian minister, Rev Wilson Issavi, was arrested by government security agents in the city of Kermanshah on February 2, 2010 and was released temporarily, after 54 days in detention, from the Dastgerd prison in Isfahan after posting bail. He is still waiting to be summoned to the revolutionary court to deal with the charges brought against him.For more information go to www.mohabatnews.com
By Dan Wooding - Founder of ASSIST Ministries
AHVAZ, IRAN (ANS) -- Two new Christian believers who were arrested by security agents and spent more than 63 days in Karoon prison of Ahvaz were conditionally released after posting a combined bail of $100,000 USD.
According to sources close to Mohabat News (http://www.mohabatnews.com/), the Iranian Christian news agency, the temporary release of these prisoners of conscience from custody coincides with the recent conditional freedoms granted to political and security-risk prisoners.
Mostafa Shokrollahi and Khalil Yarali, who were arrested in January of 2011 by the security agents and held in custody in Karoon prison of Ahvaz were released after 63 days in detention.
Ahvaz is the capital of the oil-rich province of Khuzestan and is about 543 miles Southwest of Tehran.
The conditional released was allowed after each defendant posted a bond of approximately $50,000 USD.
Sources familiar with this case have informed Mohabat News that the court hearing for these two individuals will be held next month.
"In light of the fact that currently these individuals have been charged with national security crimes, it is possible that they may be sentenced to prison terms of between 2-5 years," said a spokesperson for Mohabat News.
"Mostafa Shokrollahi was arrested on January 15, 2011 concurrent with the wave of arrested and repressive measures that were enacted by the government to crack down on the activities of Christians in Tehran and cities all over Iran.
"Khalil Yarali, another Christian man arrested at the same time, was taken to the main offices of the Ministry of Information and subsequently detained at an unknown location," added the spokesperson.
A human rights organization has been informed that five Iranian Christians, who were recently sentenced to one year's imprisonment for crimes against the Islamic Order at the Revolutionary Court in Shiraz, will soon stand trial in a lower court on blasphemy charges.
Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) reported in a news release that Pastor Behrouz Sadegh-Khandjani, Mehdi Furutan, Mohammad Beliad, Parviz Khalaj and Nazly Beliad, members of the Church of Iran denomination, were arrested in June 2010 on charges of apostasy, political meetings, blasphemy and crimes against the Islamic Order.CSW said they spent eight months in jail before being released on bail in February. Their lawyer has appealed the one-year prison sentence for crimes against the Islamic Order and a decision is pending.
Iranian authorities recently secretly executed a Jewish-Armenian couple along with one women and two other men. It's unknown what they were charged with.
The dawn execution was on March 14.
That's according to a story from the Iranian Christian News Agency "Mohabat News," who talked with human rights activists in Iran.Mohabat News said Adiva Mirza Soleiman Kalimi was Jewish Iranian, and her husband, Varoujan Petrosian, was an Armenian Iranian. The identities of the other individuals remain unknown.
Mohabat News said the families of the victims asked authorities to return the bodies of their loved ones so they could be buried according to their cultural and religious customs. However, they received threats of arrest for doing so from agents of the Ministry of Intelligence
Mohabat News said while a division court of the Revolutionary Court, located inside the Evin prison, confirmed the execution, it refused to provide further details about what happened to the prisoner's bodies.
For more information about Mohabat News go to http://www.mohabatnews.com/
Although the article gives no indication if the executed prisoners were Christian or not, we believe that posting this article will draw attention towards the persecution of non-Muslim minority groups inside of Iran. If 5 prisoners were secretively executed without anyone finding out at the time, what will the fate of brother Youcef be if we stop advocating for him.
Please continue to pray for the government of Iran and for Christians who are being persecuted.
The Islamic Republic of Iran is continuing their campaign of persecution against evangelical and non-denominational house churches. In particular, message believers are targeted as they feel their movement is isolated and thus easier to destroy.Yesterday (March 8) the Revolutionary Court of Shiraz held trial for the following individuals for actions against the Islamic order: Behrouz Sadegh-Khandjani, Mehdi Furutan, Mohammad Beliad, Parviz Khalaj, and Nazly Beliad.
Jason DeMars of www.presmettruthmn.com reports: "They have been sentenced to one year in prison and have 20 days to appeal the sentencing. I ask that you pray for their safety and for wisdom to know the direction that God is leading them in their lives."DeMars continued: "I want to give you a bigger picture of the situation for Christians in Iran. For each individual that becomes a Christian, there is the immediate understanding of the suffering that goes along with that decision.
"First, there is pressure from their Muslim family as their conversion causes the family shame. Secondly, there is the pressure that the government will find out about their conversion, arrest them, torture them, and put them in prison.
"Currently, the political situation in Iran forces them to either meet completely secretly in extremely small groups, or not to meet at all. Third, when you apply for a job you must disclose what religion you are a part of.DeMars said that if you are a Christian in Iran, you are typically not hired for the position. Therefore the financial situation of a Christian tends to be quite difficult.
"This is what we call a 'squeeze' on believers there from every direction: political, familial, and financial," he said. "The financial aspect is not only the result of the sanctions, but the government also cut the subsidies for gas and food so the price of both have increased significantly in the last few months.
Please pray for the release of these Christians.
Please continue to pray for Christians in Iran
Four women were released from Tehran's Evin Prison last night (29th January 2011), and one woman and two men from the prison in Isfahan three days ago. They spent over a month in prison, most of them in solitary confinement, solely for being Christians. They were all arrested on December 26th, 2010 along with 31 others.
Sara Akhavan's family had to surrender their trade licence, which means that if the authorities deem bail is broken, the family's livelihood would be destroyed. This trade licence was not enough to also bring the release of Sara's sister, Leila Akhavan still in Evin prison. Ladan Nouri, Nasrin Hosseini-nia, Anahita (her husband, Javad Zare still in prison) were the other women released temporarily on bail. Rafi Nadipoor, Basir Amini and Yasaman Yar-Ahmadi were released temporarily in Isfahan on bail.
There are reports that families of the three of the Christians in Mashad arrested earlier this month have been told they must pay $180,000 bail to secure their temporary release. The experience of prison and interrogation can be very traumatic and some Christians who endure this ordeal then decide to seek asylum in another country. Their families then not only lose their loved ones to exile, but also suffer the dire financial consequences as the state swallows up the bail money.
Over 70 Christians Arrested in Iran
This page is dedicated to the Christians who are still in prison after being arrested on 25 December 2010 in Iran
Also visit the webpage of Elam Ministries for more information: http://elam.com/articles/70-Christians-Arrested/
Since our January 4th email about the arrest of Christians, there has been no contact from those detained on December 26th 2010. It is almost certain they are in interrogation Block 209 in the basement of Evin Prison, Tehran. This is where Christians are initially taken, according to other believers who have endured imprisonment.
While being interrogated, the arrested are blindfolded and questioned by different officers for hours on end. After the questioning, the prisoners are returned to their cells until called again to the interrogation room.
Whenever they leave their cells, they are blindfolded. Intense psychological pressure is put on the Christians to renounce their faith. There are many reports that prisoners held in this block have been tortured. During the time of interrogation, which can go on for over a month, no contact with family members is allowed.
Iranian church leaders are calling for an international day of prayer and fasting for Christian prisoners in Iran this Sunday, January 16th, 2011. Please join us in praying for the suffering church in Iran.
Please pray for:
Over 70 Christians Arrested in Iran during Christmas
In the early morning hours after Christmas day, the Iranian government arrested 25 Christians in Tehran and other locations. They also planned to detain sixteen others, but were unable to locate them. There are also unconfirmed reports that the authorities have arrested over 50 other Christians. According to BBC Persian, the Governor of Tehran has vowed to arrest more evangelical Christians.
One of those detained was able to make a call to friends from an unknown location on the morning of the arrests, leaving this message -
"Unfortunately early this morning the authorities came to our homes. They arrested us and many other believers. I want to ask you to pray for us. We are sure God will never leave us or forsake us. God bless you. Sorry for giving you bad news over Christmas, but I believe God will do something for us."
Those who received the voice message were impressed by the caller's courage and calmness.
Armed, plain-clothes, special security officers forcefully entered the homes of Christians while they were asleep, and verbally and physically abused them. They were handcuffed and taken for interrogation. Among those arrested were five married couples. One couple was separated from their two-year old baby. Another couple was also forced to leave their baby that the mother was breastfeeding. A number of single young women were also among those taken.
Another sixteen Christians would have been arrested, but were not at home. The security forces broke into at least five such homes, ransacking them, taking personal possessions, changing the locks and placing a government seal on the door. Family members of these Christians have been called by the authorities and threatened and harassed. They were instructed to tell the Christians to surrender themselves.
After many hours of interrogation, eleven of the detained were released. The other fourteen are still in prison. There has been no contact from eight of the arrested. Six have been able to make a very short call to their families. In one of the brief calls, one of the arrested complained that they are being subjected to sleep deprivation.
None of them have been granted any legal representation. No charges have been made, though it is clear that they were arrested for their active Christian faith. There has been a gross lack of due process. The government authorities have not provided any written documents as to the reason for the arrests, any record of the items confiscated, and family members are not allowed to visit the detained.
There is an urgent need for Christians all over the world to intercede for our brothers and sisters in prison in Iran.
Let us pray that they will experience the presence and the power of the Holy Spirit, even in their prison cells. Pray they will have supernatural endurance and courage through this trial, and be shining witnesses to the guards and other inmates. Pray for peace and wisdom when they are being interrogated. Pray for their health. Pray for comfort and confidence for their families. Pray they will soon be released.
Pray for the welfare and protection of those the government is still seeking to arrest. Pray the Lord will guide their every step. Pray for the wider church in Iran to continue faithfully and fearlessly proclaiming the Good News of the Gospel. Pray for those who are working to help the persecuted and their families.
It is comforting to know that our sovereign, omniscient, all-powerful God knows about every single arrest that has been made, and that He will bring glory to His name through this suffering. He will cause this persecution to bring victory for His Kingdom in Iran.