Iran: Crackdown Continues
July 2, 2012
Iranian officials recently closed one of only four remaining churches in Tehran that offered Farsi-language services. On June 5, the Revolutionary Guard’s intelligence branch ordered an Assemblies of God (AOG) church to cease all activities and threatened to confiscate church facilities if the church did not comply.
Leaders of the church had previously received permission from authorities to use their church building in Tehran’s northwestern district of Janat-Abad to serve Assyrian-background church members. Over time, a Farsi-language service on Sundays began to attract more people. The church began to grow rapidly, which drew the attention of authorities. Farsi is Iran’s official language, and almost all of the population speaks Farsi.
“Due to an increasing number of Farsi-speaking believers — mostly [Muslim background believers] — it has become a cause of concern for the authorities, and they now ordered it to shut down,” Iranian Christian human rights advocate Monsour Borji told Compass Direct News.
Only three churches that provide Farsi-language services now remain: the AOG Central Church of Tehran, Emmanuel Protestant Church and St. Peter’s Evangelical Church. Two other churches that provided Farsi services were closed in February.
Many in Iran report an increase in the government’s efforts to eradicate Christianity, with authorities targeting both house churches and the relatively few officially recognized Protestant churches. Last month, the AOG Central Church of Iran yielded to years of government pressure and asked its members to voluntarily submit their names and ID numbers. Several members have since been arrested or lost their jobs.
A former member of Iranian intelligence recently confirmed that the government specifically targets Christian converts. The regime hopes to suppress Christianity by identifying pastors and active Christians, arresting them and torturing them in prison.
Sources: Mohabat News, Present Truth Ministries, Middle East Concern, Compass Direct News