Friday, July 6, 2012

Iran: Christians Arrested In Khorasan’s Principle Cities of Mash-Had and Neishabour

Part of crackdown on house churches

By Dan Wooding
Founder of ASSIST Ministries

MASH-HAD/NEISHABOUR, IRAN (ANS) -- Plainclothes agents of the Ministry of Islamic Guidance raided a House Church in Neishabour on Friday 25th May 2012, arresting the worshippers.
“Hadi” arrested in Neishabour (Photo: FCCN)

Sources have informed the Farsi Christian News Network (FCNN) -- -- of another house church raid by plainclothes agents of the Islamic Regime on May 26, 2012; this time in Mash-had.

A Christian source from Khorasan has told FCNN about “coordinated attacks against house churches, and large scale arrest of Christians in the two principal cities of the province of Khorasan.”

According to these reports from Mash-had (regional capital of the vast province of Khorasan, 497 miles NE of Tehran), plainclothes agents of the Ministry of Islamic Guidance raided a house church in Neishabour on Friday, May 25, 2012, arresting the worshippers.

The report reveals that two of the detainees, identified as “Hadi”, and “Alireza”, were separated from the rest, transported to Mash-had – some 80 miles away -- and were being “aggressively interrogated”.

“Hadi” is new Christian convert from Neishabour, and has been “accused” of organizing and running a house church. He has, for some months, been under not so covert a surveillance, as well as highly visibly overt pressure, by and from the local agents of Islamic enforcement gang of Basij, a paramilitary volunteer militia established in 1979 by order of the Islamic Revolution's leader Ayatollah Khomeini.

This group is sent out into the streets to help enforce Islamic law in Iran.
Iranian president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad,
with Basij commanders

“The formation of its very own ‘black shirts’ are extensively used in its role of domestic spy and intimidation agency,” said a spokesperson for FCCN. “The ‘Basij Force’ is one of proudest achievements of the Islamic Republic.”

Sources have also informed FCNN of another house church raid by plainclothes agents of The Islamic Regime on May 26, 2012, this time in Mash-had, during which they searched of the house where Christians had been meeting, and the subsequent arrest of all those present.

Iranian Christian News Agency has identified one of the detained Christians as a young man, whom they named as Mr. Vahid Zardi, a graduate of the University of Mash-had, and a gifted musician, who they said “is a [relatively] new and active Christian convert in the city.”
Confirming the news of Mr. Zardi’s arrest, sources in Mash-had added that he had been previously arrested in Neishabour in 2007.

“They are of the opinion that the almost simultaneous raids and arrests cannot be a coincidence,” said the FCCN spokesperson.

In April of this year, rumors of the imminent freedom of Mr. Ehsan Behrouz, had raised hopes of “probable moderation of the Islamic Regime’s concerted attacks against Christians in the country in general and city of Mash-had in particular”.

Mr. Behrouz is a 24-year-old student of Industrial Management Studies in the university of Mash-had, who was arrested, for the second time in one year, in November 2011.

The spokesperson added, “Mr. Behrouz has now spent over eight months in prison, and needless to say under Islamic jurisprudence in the Islamic Republic, has never been charged, and there is no news of any impending trials.

“Islamic Justice Ministry officials in Mash-had have banned his family from contacting the media, foreign or domestic, under threat of dire consequences for their son and the loss of their US$80,000 surety posted for his freedom; should they ignore the order.”

Two months after repeated promises of his release, Mr. Behrouz’s family are yet to hear of his freedom, or even informed about his conditions in prison.

FCCN says that Mash-had is Shia’ Islam’s most important site outside the Arab world, and a highly important religious city.

“Rapid growth of house churches in Mash-had has caused considerable unease amongst the Islamic religious cabal running the country; and it seems to have shocked and angered them into taking punitive actions against the new converts and growing numbers of House Churches in ‘The Religious Heart’ of the Islamic Republic”, added the spokesperson.

Dan Wooding, 71, is an award winning British journalist now living in Southern California with his wife Norma, to whom he has been married for 48 years. They have two sons, Andrew and Peter, and six grandchildren who all live in the UK. He is the founder and international director of ASSIST (Aid to Special Saints in Strategic Times) and the ASSIST News Service (ANS) and was, for ten years, a commentator, on the UPI Radio Network in Washington, DC. He hosts the weekly “Front Page Radio” show on the KWVE Radio Network in Southern California and which is also carried throughout the United States. The program is also aired in Great Britain on Calvary Chapel Radio UK and also in Belize and South Africa. Besides this, Wooding is a host for His Channel Live, which is carried via the Internet to some 192 countries and also provides a regular commentary for Worship Life Radio on KWVE. You can follow Dan Wooding on Facebook under his name there or at ASSIST News Service. Dan has recently received two top media awards -- the "Passion for the Persecuted" award from Open Doors US, and one of the top "Newsmakers of 2011" from Plain Truth magazine. He is the author of some 44 books, the latest of which is "Caped Crusader: Rick Wakeman in the 1970s." To order a copy, go to: . Wooding, who was born in Nigeria of British missionary parents, has also recently released his first novel “Red Dagger” which is available this link.

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