Iran has arrested about 70 Christians since Christmas in a crackdown that demonstrates the limits of religious tolerance by Islamic leaders who often boast they provide room for other faiths.

The latest raids have targeted grass-roots Christian groups Iran describes as “hard-liners” who pose a threat to the Islamic state. Authorities increasingly view them with suspicions that range from trying to convert Muslims to being possible footholds for foreign influence.

Christian activists claim their Iranian brethren are being persecuted simply for worshipping outside officially sanctioned mainstream churches.

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