Archon News

Iran: Authorities close down church, remove its cross

“Many churches owned by Protestants have been confiscated in Iran. In most cases the government has been unable to repurpose them, especially if they were listed. So they typically remain as empty buildings, often neglected, and turn into ruins before being demolished, as was the case with the church in Kerman.”

Meanwhile, the Christians who were members of those churches are left without a place of worship, and come under increased suspicion from Iranian authorities who are all too ready to contravene the government’s official statements about how Christians are free to pray and worship in Iran. “Christians from Iran’s historic Assyrian and Armenian communities are a recognised minority, who are usually able to freely practise their faith, providing they don’t open their doors to Muslim-born Iranians by holding services in Persian.”

However, this free practice of their faith is always precarious and subject to the whims of government and law enforcement officials.

“Assyrian Presbyterian church in Tabriz closed down,” Article 18, May 23, 2019:

The Assyrian Christian community in the northwestern city of Tabriz has been left it a state of shock, after the Presbyterian church was forcibly closed earlier this month.

Intelligence agents stormed the 100-year-old church, which is a National Heritage site, on Thursday, 9 May, changed all the locks, tore down the cross from the church tower, and ordered the church warden to leave.

“They made it clear that the Assyrian people are no longer allowed to hold any worship service there,” explained a trusted source to Article18….

Then on 9 May “a large number” of agents from the Ministry of Intelligence and EIKO, an organisation under the direct control of the Supreme Leader, “entered our church compound and changed all the locks on the doors, removed the cross from the church’s high tower, installed some monitoring instruments and started to threaten and force our custodian to leave his place inside the compound immediately”.

The church, belonging to The Assyrian Presbytery, was “confiscated” by Revolutionary Court order in 2011, but church members had been able to continue using the building for services in the Assyrian language – until now.

“Many churches owned by Protestants have been confiscated in Iran,” explains Article18’s Advocacy Director, Mansour Borji, “In most cases the government has been unable to repurpose them, especially if they were listed. So they typically remain as empty buildings, often neglected, and turn into ruins before being demolished, as was the case with the church in Kerman.”

Christians from Iran’s historic Assyrian and Armenian communities are a recognised minority, who are usually able to freely practise their faith, providing they don’t open their doors to Muslim-born Iranians by holding services in Persian.

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