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Iranian Young Christian Tells His Story, From House Church to Prison
ICC Note:
Christians in Iran suffer greatly for their faith and risk grave danger just to follow Jesus. This article shares the story of a young Christian who was arrested when he was 19 because of his involvement in “house church activities.” Read his story: From House Church to Prison.
11/27/2012 Iran (Mohabat News)- According to Mohabat News, Danial Shahri was only 19 when he was arrested. Although he was born in a Persian Christian family and so was recognized as a Christian by the Islamic regime of Iran, he was arrested on April 11, 2010 because of his Christian activities in a house church in Isfahan.

Background
I am Danial Shahri. I was born on November 10, 1990 in a Christian family in Isfahan. My parents are both blind and converted to Christianity from Islam. I was a student in Iran and was active in a home church in Isfahan. Our home church was attacked by the intelligence agents in March 2010 and the leaders of the home church were arrested. Subsequently, on April 11, 2010 I was arrested at our home and charged with “web management of the home church”, “blasphemy and publishing lies”, “evangelism” and “forming and participating in home church”. I was detained in Dastgerd prison of Isfahan for two weeks and finally released on bail until my first court hearing. Nearly six months later, on December 12, 2010, I left Iran.
Early arrests of Christians in Isfahan
The first arrests in Isfahan happened in 2003 in my mother’s church, the St. Luke’s Episcopal Church. Of course at that time I was too young for [the authorities] to cause me any problems. But a group was arrested in St. Luke’s Church at that time, including my mother and sister who were summoned to the intelligence office and interrogated. My father, who worked in the Social Security Organization, was also interrogated by the security office at his work place. [In interrogation] they asked them [questions like] why does this guy goes to church? Or, is that guy baptized or not? Or, why they went on that trip? And questions like that.
Forming the home church
Following the arrests, and since the official churches in Iran are under strict supervision and pressure from the government, I didn’t go to the official church any more despite the fact that our home was close to St. Luke’s church. . The government controls everything and doesn’t let the church engage in evangelism or conduct its service freely. From that time forward, a group of us Christians gathered in homes and had church service at home. The gathering of Christians at home is named the “Home Church”.
In 2010, the home church, held at a friend’s home, was also attacked by the intelligence agents of Isfahan. On February 28, 2010 they first went to the leaders of our home church. Coincidentally, since they were also our close friends, I was at their home that day fixing their computer, when about 15 plain clothes intelligence agents attacked their home. When I tried to defend them, they hit me and cursed at me too. They even handcuffed me so that I wouldn’t intrude. Finally they arrested the couple that was the leaders of our home church and carried them off.
Detention
After that, since their family had two sons, I went to their home every day so that their children wouldn’t feel lonely. On the afternoon of April 11, 2010 I was in their home and eating lunch with their children when my sister, sounding frightened, called and told me: “Danial, come home. They have your arrest warrant!” I quickly returned home. When I rang the bell, one of the 15 plain clothes agents present at the arrest of the leaders of our home church opened the door for me and ridiculed me by saying: “Well, well, Mr. Danial! Welcome. Come in. We have come to meet you too.”

When I entered the home, I saw four agents in plain clothes, from the group of 15 agents I previously mentioned, in my room. One of them was well-built and had a beard up to his eyes. One of them was short with a big stomach and slightly bald in the front of his scalp. One of them, who looked like their commander, sat in a corner and checked the things that the other took out of my room to take with them. No matter how many times my blind parents who couldn’t see anything asked them what they were doing, they didn’t respond in a clear manner. They mocked everything [they came across]. I was studying for Konkoor (Iran’s university entrance exam) at that time. They even inspected my textbooks. They searched [my things] so carefully they even found things I thought I had lost. They seized the satellite TV receiver and cell phones. They even searched my sister’s room, opened all the drawers, and searched everything.
They finally said: “Danial, you come with us, we want to talk to you”. My parents were very worried. I comforted them, left my wallet and other things at home and went with them. They realized my mother was very uncomfortable and told her: if Danial cooperates with us, we will bring him back home ourselves in 24 hours. Then they handcuffed me and put me in a dark blue Peugeot with a red government license plate. They sat me alongside one of them, who was fat and young and made a list of my stuff that they were taking with them. One of them sat in the driver’s seat and took me to Dastgerd prison of Isfahan.
Dastgerd prison of Isfahan
When the car arrived at the door of the prison, the guards opened the door – without questioning us – and we entered. Then the car passed by another large door near the clinic of the prison and we entered another building beside that door. There, they wrote my name and pinned it to my shirt and snapped photots of me from different angles. They took me to the upstairs of the building, and then blindfolded me in front of a thick iron sliding door that had “Alef-Ta” written on it. They then led me into the Alef-Ta wing.

The next morning, on Monday, April 19, 2011, the authorities came to the cell, handcuffed me and drove me to the revolutionary court in Baharestan town in a Peugeot. Although the revolutionary court is normally located on Chahar Baghe Bala Street, the revolutionary court had temporarily relocated to Baharestan town while the main office building underwent repairs. The authorities took me to the court’s 11th branch, but I was told that the judge didn’t have time that day, so I was transported back to prison.
The next morning, on Tuesday, they came for me once again. They led me out of the cell, blindfolded me and after we climbed some stairs, they took me into a room for interrogation. On the first day of interrogation, they held me in that room alone for several hours. During these days of interrogation, I heard the interrogations that were conducted in the adjacent room. One person was interrogated for a drug-related arrest, another one was arrested for protests during Charshanbe Suri (Iranian “Festival of Fire”), and another one was arrested for attending a student party in a garden.

Freedom
On Saturday, April 24, 2010, I was released from prison with the bondsman surety. As I headed out of prison, intelligence agents told me my case remained open and that they would summon my presence at the court hearing.

After a while they called me from the intelligence to go and get my computer case. When I retrieved the case I saw that they had kept the hard drive. They told me that the judiciary seized the hard drive. Except for my sister’s laptop and cell phone, they didn’t give anything else back. About six months after these incidents, on December 12, 2010, I left Iran.
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