World Watch Monitor

Iranian authorities continue to arrest Christians, among them a 65-year-old woman who was held in detention and interrogated for ten days, day and night.

Security officials raided Ruhsari Kamberi’s home in Karaj, 50 kilometres west of the capital Tehran, a few days before Christmas while she was there with four other female Christian converts, reports Middle East Concern.

Personal belongings such as mobile phones, Bibles and Christian literature were confiscated. It is not known where the other four women were taken.

Kamberi was finally released on a bail of 30 million Toman (approximately $US7,000). Earlier this month in court she was charged with “acting against national security” and was told to receive “instruction” by a religious leader and consider a return to Islam.

On 25th January, Iran’s security officers in Shiraz, south-central Iran, also arrested a 64-year old man, Ismaeil Maghrebinejad.

Since Maghrebinejad became a Christian 40 years ago he has been regularly harassed by security officials, including an attempt to kill him, said the London-based religious freedom charity Article 18.

When they contacted authorities, relatives were not told where he was taken. Instead it was suggested they should register him as a missing person.

Ismaeil, when he was finally able to contact his family, could not tell them where he was being held or what he was charged with.

Two days earlier, on 23rd January, Sina Moloudian, a 26-year-old who had converted to Christianity, was taken by plain clothes officers from his parents’ home in central Iran during a violent raid, according to Article 18.

In a phone call he told his parents he is held in Isfahan’s Dastgerd Prison but did not know on what charges.

Meanwhile a Christian man, detained since November, 2017, in Tehran’s infamous Evin Prison, referred to as “the world’s most brutal prison”, had his sentence reduced by two years following an appeal, said Article 18.

Majidreza Souzanchi-Kashani, 35, now has to serve a three-year prison sentence for “disrupting national security” by being a member of a “house church” in Tehran. 

He was arrested and sentenced alongside Fatemeh Mohammadi, 19, who received a six-month prison sentence for “membership of an evangelical group”. As she had already served time she was released after her sentencing.

Iran’s authorities have ramped up action against Christians in recent months. In December 114 Christians were arrested in one week.

report released by Article 18 in collaboration with MEC, CSW and Open Doors International documents religious freedom violations against the Iranian Christian community in 2018.

Iran is 9th on the 2019 Open Doors World Watch List of the 50 countries where it is most difficult to live as a Christian.