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Iran: Abbas and Sakineh – the nation’s forgotten Christian martyrs

Everywhere Christians are persecuted, there are largely unknown and unsung martyrs like Abbas Amiri and Sakineh Rahnama. There are laws in Iran that grant some freedoms to the Christians, but they are often ignored, and Christians are frequently regarded as enemies of the state. The U.S. State Department has classified Iran as a “country of particular concern” for “having engaged in or tolerated particularly severe violations of religious freedom.”

For previous coverage of Iran, see here.

“Abbas and Sakineh – Iran’s forgotten Christian martyrs,” Article 18, July 30, 2021:

The deaths of an elderly Iranian couple following a violent raid by intelligence agents on their house-church in 2008, though a relatively recent event, remains a largely untold story.

Abbas Amiri, who was 63, and his wife Sakineh Rahnama – both converts to Christianity – died on 30 July and 3 August, respectively, due to injuries sustained during the 27 July raid on their home in the Malek Shahr neighbourhood of Isfahan.

Abbas’s injuries – especially to his chest – were so severe that he was taken, in a coma, straight to intensive care in Isfahan’s Shariati Hospital.

He died three days later.

It was reported at the time that the agents had intensified their beating after learning that before his conversion Abbas had made the pilgrimage to Mecca and had also been a veteran of the Iran-Iraq War – both sources of immense national pride.

Following Abbas’s death, his family were warned not to make too much noise about his passing, nor to mourn him too publicly – for example by erecting black flags outside their home.

Instead, they held a quiet ceremony in Abbas’s hometown, Masjed Soleyman, where he was laid to rest the day after his death.

Three days later, Abbas’s wife’s body would be laid beside his.

Sakineh died from a heart attack, believed to have been brought on both by the injuries she sustained during the raid, and the distress of her husband’s passing….

Despite calls at the time by religious-freedom groups for an independent enquiry into Abbas and Sakineh’s deaths, the event was simply swept under the carpet and has today even been largely forgotten in Iranian Christian circles….

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