Gospel spreads as detention and trial of Iranian Christians continues

October 18, 2012 by  
Filed under newsletter-world

Helma (12) and Nima (17) have been left alone since their parents were detained

Helma (12) and Nima (17) have been left alone since their parents were detained

Iran, October 16, 2012: The arrest, detention and trial of Christians in Iran continues unabated as the unstoppable spread of Christianity in the strictly Islamic country is acknowledged in the media.

Seven Christians were rounded up in a raid on a prayer meeting at a house in Shiraz on Friday (12 October). Mohammad (Vahid) Roghangir, Suroush Saraie, Roxana Forughi, Eskandar Rezaie, Bijan Haghighi, Mehdi Ameruni and Shahin Lahooti are now being held at the Intelligence Ministry’s notorious detention centre. Older people who were at the meeting were threatened but not arrested.

Five Christian converts who were also detained in a house church raid in Shiraz were due to stand trial this week. Mojtaba Hosseini, Mohammad-Reza Partoei (Kourosh), Vahid Hakkani, Homayoun Shokouhi and his wife Fariba Nazemian have been held separately in Adel-Abad prison alongside murderers and drug dealers since their arrest in February.

They are charged with “creating illegal groups”, “participating in house church services”, “propagation against the Islamic regime” and “defaming Islamic holy figures through Christian evangelising”.

Homayoun and Fariba have two children, aged 17 and 12, who have been left to fend for themselves since their parents detention.

Homayoun and Mojtaba had previously been arrested, in May 2008, because of their Christian faith along with eight other converts. On that occasion, the pair were given a suspended five-year jail term; it is thought that this case may be reviewed at their latest trial.

TEMPORARY RELEASE

Vahid Zarday, a Christian artist arrested in a house church raid in Mashhad in May, has been temporarily released pending his trial. He was held for more than four months in Vakil-Abad prison, which has been described by human rights activists as “hell on earth”. It is not known when his trial will take place.

Vahid, who has collaborated with a number of famous Iranian artists and received awards as a music composer, was previously arrested, in 2007, along with other Christians because of their faith.

There has been a significant increase in arrests during recent weeks as the Iranian authorities continue their campaign to quash Christianity in the country. The United Nations’ Special Rapporteur on Iran has said that 300 Christians have been arbitrarily arrested and imprisoned since 2010.

But the regime’s harsh strategy does not appear to be working. A report in a government-backed Iranian newspaper acknowledged the spread of house churches in Mashhad, saying that 200 were operating in the city.

And a local newspaper published in Khorasan province quoted a senior Islamic cleric, Akhond Sobhani, as warning against the growth of Christianity in the country. He claimed that 600 people had converted to Christianity in Neishabour alone.

– barnabas team

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