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Iran: New arrests and threats as pressure increases on Christians in the city of Rasht

The Iranian government targets converts to Christianity because it considers them to be apostate and threats to the state. That is why some converts have been charged with offenses such as “acting against national security.” Iranian authorities regard preaching the Christian Faith as acting against 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.

“New arrests and threats as pressure increases on Rasht Christians,” Article 18, September 6, 2021:

Three Christian converts were arrested last night in the northern city of Rasht, in the latest blow to the beleaguered Christian community there.

Ahmad Sarparast, Morteza Mashoodkari, and Ayoob Poor-Rezazadeh were arrested at around 10pm – two at a house-church meeting, and another at his home – and are now being held in an unknown location.

The small community of Christian converts in Rasht has been affected perhaps more than any other in Iran in recent years, with 11 local Christians currently serving long prison sentences, another living in internal exile, and a further four facing a combined 13 years in prison.

Meanwhile, in the past few weeks nine of the Rasht Christians held in Tehran’s Evin Prison have been threatened with enforced transfers to a different prison, and told they’ll have to pay for their own transportation there.

One of them, Abdolreza Ali Haghnejad, has already been transferred after a short furlough, and is now in Anzali.

And although the prison in Anzali is much closer to home and would therefore have been a preferable place of detention in the first place, two of the nine Christians, Behnam Akhlaghi and Babak Hosseinzadeh, say they fear that a transfer now would make any further requests for leave or a retrial even more complicated.

The two Christians are upset that their repeated requests for a retrial have been ignored, while they are also frustrated at being informed that their imminent transfer was about to take place, without any prior warning or conversation about the matter.

All nine Christians – also Shahrooz Eslamdoust, Mehdi Khatibi, Khalil Dehghanpour, Hossein Kadivar, Kamal Naamanian and Mohammad Vafadar – are serving five-year sentences for “acting against national security” because of their leadership of house-churches….

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