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Iran: Convert to Christianity imprisoned, harassed, forced to attend reeducation classes after release

Iman Ghaznavian Haghighi recounts that after his release, he “was forced to attend ‘re-education’ classes with an Islamic cleric. ‘Those were very difficult days,’ he recalls, ‘because I had no knowledge of Christian apologetics, and [his] words challenged me.’”

There are numerous forces working against the Christian Faith not just in Iran, but in every country of the world, and all Christians will encounter many challenges to our Holy Faith. Iman Ghaznavian Haghighi’s words highlight the necessity for every Christian to become educated and well-informed about the Faith, so as to withstand all such challenges whenever they are encountered.

For previous coverage of Iran, see here.

“‘I asked myself, why am I alive?,’” Article 18, September 3, 2021:

It was clear from the questions the interrogators asked him that Iman Ghaznavian Haghighi had been arrested only because of his Christian faith.

“When and how did you start to believe in Jesus Christ? Where did you get your Bible? How many people did you evangelise? Why did you evangelise? What was your responsibility in the house-church?”

For 10 hours a day, Iman says he was repeatedly asked these questions.

The Christian convert was 26 years old when he was arrested, as he went out of the front door of his home in Shiraz one morning in September 2012.

Three agents of Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence forcibly pushed him back inside his home, and “angrily” asked Iman’s mother and sister to put on their headscarves, before seating the three of them on a sofa and placing another sofa in from of their feet, “so that we couldn’t move”.

“My mother and sister were both shocked and very scared,” Iman recalls, “but I felt a strange peace, alongside a little fear.”

The agents ransacked Iman’s home, confiscating everything from his mobile phones and laptops, to books, CDs and even a Jewish candleholder he had bought during a visit to India.

Then Iman was taken away, and forced to sit in between two agents in the back of a car, his head pushed down “so that I couldn’t see anything along the way”.

For the next 26 days, Iman was held in the Ministry of Intelligence prison.

For the first nine of these days, Iman was held in solitary confinement – in a cell “so small it wouldn’t have been possible to sleep even if just two or three people were there”.

The hot weather only added to Iman’s discomfort, and the rank smell of his solitary cell.

And even after his time in solitary confinement was through, Iman says the agents did everything they could to ensure his stay was not a comfortable one.

“I was put in a cell with two others, but they constantly changed who I was with,” he recalls. “This was also a mental torture for me, because as soon as we became friends and I got used to them, they separated us.”

On his second day in detention, Iman was taken to the prosecutor’s office, where he says: “I wasn’t allowed to speak, and they made fun of me. I was told, ‘Shut up! You aren’t allowed to talk!’”

Instead, Iman was told he must write down his answer to their questions.

Once again, the line of questioning was clear.

“For how many years have you believed in Jesus Christ? How did you come to this belief? Have you been baptised? Which Christian denomination do you belong to? Have you been in contact with Christian channels abroad?”

During his interrogations, Iman says he was frequently insulted – they called him “unclean” and asked why he had changed his religion and brought this “misery” upon himself.

Iman says he suffered stress-induced headaches and nosebleeds at night, and that after his release a doctor, seeing his condition, told him “It’s a miracle you haven’t suffered several strokes!”

One day, Iman was forced to watch as another detainee was subjected to a sustained attack with a taser….

Iman says he would constantly receive calls from the Ministry of Intelligence, telling him, “We’re watching you, everywhere you go!”

They even offered to acquit him, if he’d “write a blog against Christianity, or travel abroad to spy on the activities of other Christians”.

Then Iman was forced to attend “re-education” classes with an Islamic cleric.

“Those were very difficult days,” he recalls, “because I had no knowledge of Christian apologetics, and [his] words challenged me.”…

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