In four raids in different cities, officials arrested members of a “free” evangelical group accused of proselytism and threats to national security. Thirteen are still in prison.
Teheran (AsiaNews) – Iran’s secret police have conducted raids against some Christian communities in the lead-up to Christmas. On Sunday, 10 December officials arrested 15 Christians in different areas of the country: Karaj, Teheran, Rasht and Bandar-i Anzali. Only two have been released, according to the Compass Direct agency that broke the news on 14 December. Compass initially reported 10 arrests but yesterday more details became available.
The site persecution.org said that in fact 15 Christians had been arrested. They belong to a movement of local house churches. The group describes itself as a Christian community of “liberal evangelicals”. However the Iranian evangelical community disagrees with some of the group’s unorthodox doctrines like the rejection of the concept of the Trinity.
An anonymous souce said police broke into the homes of Christians in Teheran, Karaj, Rasht and Bandar-i Anzali on the morning of 10 December. The officials charged those arrested with 10 accusations, including evangelization activities and actions against the national security of Iran. Police confiscated computers, CDs, tapes, Bibles and evangelistic literature.
In the days following the raid, several members of the movement were called in for a day or more of police interrogations and then released.
Members of the same community of 600 or more have been warned by police authorities not to spread any news about the arrests outside of Iran.
The Christians arrested in Rasht are: Shaheen Taghizadeh, Yosef Noorkhani, Mathias Hagh-Nejad, Parviz Khalaj, Muhammad Belyad, Peyman Salarvand, Sohrab Sayadi, Davoodand Amin. Those arrested in Teheran are: Mrs Shirin Sadegh, Behrooz Sadegh, Hamid-Reza Tolou’ee. And in Karaj: Behnam Irani and his brother Barman Irani. The last was released on 14 December together with Seyed Abdolreza and Ali Haghnejad from Bandar-i Anzali.