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Iranian Police Attack Pre-Christmas Celebration

Washington, D.C. (December 23, 2009) – International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that on December 17, security police and undercover officers raided a Christian worship gathering and arrested two of the group’s leaders in Karaj, Iran.

According to reports by Farsi Christian News Network (FCNN), Iran security police and ‘plain clothes’ officers invaded a group of more than 70 new believers, interrupting pre-Christmas celebrations. Group leaders Kambiz Saghaee and Ali Keshvar-Doost were arrested and are currently held at an unknown location. Family has not received contact from the leaders, and are deeply concerned for their well-being.

All present at the gathering were photographed. They were alerted that formal interrogations will ensue and to comply when summoned before legal prosecutors. Moreover, Bibles, Christian books and other materials were confiscated by the security officers.

The Christians were gathering in preparation for Christmas just prior to the assault. ICC sources indicate that this raid is only one of many that have occurred before the holidays. “This move by the security forces of the Islamic Republic of Iran clearly shows that Farsi-speaking Christians in Iran are deprived of their right to celebrate Christmas and welcome the Christian New Year,” reports FCNN.

Aidan Clay, ICC Regional Manager for the Middle East, said, “The Iranian government severely restricts religious freedom. ICC is highlighting this particular incident as one of many occurrences that have taken place, demonstrating Iran’s ongoing trend of executing severe tactics of brutality toward Christians and other religious minorities. Iran has adopted the strategy of eliminating any potential challenge to its sovereignty and to Islam. Christianity’s growth is seen as a threat and is being targeted for elimination by Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s tyrannical regime. ICC strongly condemns Iran’s brutality and requests the immediate release of Kambiz Saghaee and Ali Keshvar-Doost, that they may celebrate Christmas this year with family, and not from a prison chamber.”