Iran Ramps Up Persecution of Christians

ICC Sees Increase in Government Activity in July

07/31/18 Washington D.C. (International Christian Concern) –  International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that during the month of July, Iran significantly increased judicial actions against Christians. At the beginning of the month, President Hassan Rouhani traveled to the West and emphasized that “Christians have the same rights as others do,” despite substantial evidence proving otherwise.

As July progressed, eight believers reportedly had judicial action taken against them. This number represents a noteworthy increase of publicized cases of Christian persecution in Iran.

On July 2, Massoumeh Taqinejad was arrested and detained alongside her son during a raid on her home by intelligence forces. She has been charged with proselytizing Christianity on the internet and they were arrested in Kermanshah. Their fate remains unknown.

On July 13, Ramiel Bet Tamraz was sentenced to four months in prison after being convicted of acting against national security. Ramiel is the third person in his family facing legal action because of his Christian identity. He had previously been detained in Evin Prison.

On July 18, Amir Saman Dashti’s court case was heard and he was sentenced to four months in prison. The case is under appeal. It is reported that he was previously held in Evin Prison for 76 days after his arrest in 2016. He has since been temporarily released on bail.

On July 22, Pastor Yousef Nadarkhani was violently arrested when his home was raided. He has been transferred to the so-called quarantine ward of Evin Prison. He was sentenced to 10 years in prison after being convicted of acting against national security. He was also sentenced to an additional two years of internal exile.

On July 24, Mohammadreza Omidi and Saheb Fadaie were arrested in their homes. Both have been taken to Evin Prison to begin serving their sentences. They were each sentenced to 10 years in prison, and Omidi received an additional two-year sentence of internal exile.

On July 25, Yasser Mossayebzadeh was arrested and transferred to Evin Prison. He originally surrendered himself to the police, hoping to avoid a similar situation to Omidi and Fadaie’s, but was told that he would be arrested in a similar manner. His sentence is 10 years in prison for a conviction of acting against national security.

According to a statement by Christian Solidarity Worldwide, “Local observers note that as the Iranian regime has grown more unpopular and citizens have become more vocal in their criticism of corruption in official circles, the government has become increasingly reliant on the support of hard-line ayatollahs, who favour increased pressure on religious minorities.”

“As Christianity is growing fast in Iran, the top religious leaders are alarmed. They then put pressure on the Revolutionary Guard’s security police as ‘what are you doing to stop Christians?’ … the strategy of the government is not a wide spread arrest and execution. Their strategy is to arrest a few but publicize their arrest to put fear in the hearts of 1-3 million Christians and make them isolated, fearful, and prisoners in their homes,” added Dr. Hormoz Shariat of Iran Alive Ministries.

“In the wake of worsening sociopolitical (and) economic situation in Iran, we see an increased level of persecution against Christians in the country,” said Lazarus Yeghnazar of 222 Ministries. “As history has shown, like any despotic regime at the last hours of their brutal control, I expect that the Clerics in Iran (which virtually are the government!) will become more bitter, mindless and unpredictable.”

“Sadly most are deeply corrupt by all counts and simply punish the ‘house church’ and its leaders because they are angry that Christianity is stealing away from their blind adherents, hence endangering their existence. We, the free Christians in the West, need to stand in the gap in united prayer,” he continued.

Claire Evans, ICC’s Regional Manager, said, “The persecution of Christians in Iran is increasingly building as the regime struggles to maintain its grip over the hearts and minds of its citizenry. It is also no coincidence that most of these eight Christians targeted in July have been sent to Evin Prison, Iran’s notorious ‘torture factory.’ The government continues to disown religious freedom and human rights, despite its own laws saying otherwise. We must keep these eight individuals, as well as Iran’s entire Christian community, in our prayers.”

For interviews with Claire Evans, Regional Manager, please contact Olivia Miller, Communications Coordinator: press@persecution.org

ICC is on a mission to help persecuted Christians. Will you join us?