IRAN Nine Christians arrested on Christmas Day for celebrating Jesus’ birth
Arrests of Christians in Iran have continued despite the historic deal reached last July with Western world leaders, which lifted economic sanctions from Iran in exchange for limits on the country’s nuclear programme.
Plain-clothes agents of Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS) raided an in-house church in the city of Shiraz on Christmas Day. Nine Christians were arrested for celebrating their faith and their personal items, including satellite dishes, were confiscated.
Only two days before, another Iranian Christian, Meysam Hojjati, was arrested in the central city of Isfahan by MOIS agents. He was beaten and his personal items confiscated, including his decorated Christmas tree. Hojjati had been arrested previusly in a 2010 raid on Christian churches for “action against national security, cooperating with foreign organizations and evangelism.” Other Christians still held in Iranian prisons include American citizen Pastor Saeed Abedini, who has spent three years in jail after being arrested while working on an orphanage in Iran.
Shahin Gobadi of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) commented:”This is just another case in point. Actually, the clerical regime is one of the top violators of rights of religious minorities, including Christians, in the world. The regime has institutionalized repression of the Iranian people as the main tool of its survival.” He added “There has been a steady deterioration of human rights abuses in Iran during Hassan Rouhani’s tenure as president, including executions and suppression of religious and ethnic minorities”.
Maryam Rajavi, president-elect of the NCRI, declared “Muslims and Christians can rely on their common values to stand up to those who pervert their religions. Let us hope for the relief of converted Christians in Iran from the oppression of ruling mullahs and for freedom of the whole Iranian nation from this religious dictatorship”. She is hopeful that relations between Muslims and Christians in Iran will improve in 2016, despite the problems.
Rajavi added: “On this occasion, I call on the world community to form an international front against the religious dictatorship in Iran and its proxies and militia in Syria and Iraq and to fight Islamic extremism, the enemy of true Muslims, Christians and all followers of other divine religions”.