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ICC Note: The Iranian government has seized control and confiscated the property of church-owned retreat  center in Karaj city. The  government accused the retreat center of hosting the CIA to occupy and infiltrate the Islamic world in Iran. This is part of larger scale crackdown by the Iranian regime to curb evangelism and the spread of Christianity in the country.

12/14/2016 Iran (WWM): The Iranian government has assumed control of a church-owned retreat centre, accusing the church of being funded by the US government and the CIA.

The government said the retreat centre in Karaj, a city just west of Tehran, belonged to an organisation “funded by the US through the CIA spy agency to infiltrate the Islamic world, and particularly Iran, by conducting evangelistic activities”.

Article 18, a London-based NGO, says the move represents a “renewed phase” in the government’s crackdown on Protestant churches, “with intensifying efforts to confiscate remaining properties [that] belong to Evangelical churches”.

This is “the latest action in an intensified campaign by the regime aimed at curbing the growth of Christianity in Iran, particularly among former Muslims,” Article 18 reports. “Over the last few years, the Iranian government has begun taking possession of remaining properties belonging to official Protestant churches.”

“The ultimate goal of the campaign,” former church leaders told Article 18, “is to render Protestant and Evangelical churches, with more than 630 million adherents worldwide, as an outsider cult with no official recognition in Iran.”

Article 18’s Mansour Borji told the BBC yesterday (11 Dec.) that, after the government linked the Church with the CIA, “every church leader, every church member [will be] quite frightened because of the prospects of prison and being labelled as collaborators with the ‘enemy’”.

Christians, Jews and Zoroastrians are “protected religious minorities” under Iran’s constitution, but Article 18 says Iran’s “constitutional theocracy discriminates against its citizens on the basis of religion”.  Traditionally, Iran’s Christian minority was comprised of ethnic minorities of Armenian and Assyrian descent, but Article 18 says an increase in Iranian nationals converting to Christianity has been seen as a “threat to the nation’s security”.

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