Evangelical Christians in Iran “have crafted a movement in the name of Christianity” in the same way that members of the Taliban “have inserted themselves into Islam like…parasite[s],” Tehran governor, Morteza Tamaddon recently declared. Tamaddon praised the arrest of over 70 Iranian Christians and vowed to identify and arrest more Christians, whom he labeled “deviant” and “corrupt,” according to a January 7 press statement from the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF).

Elam, a ministry to the church in Iran, reported that armed, plain-clothed security forces broke into the homes of sleeping Christians from the evangelical house church and Armenian Christian communities early on the morning of December 26. Eleven of the twenty-five Christians known to be arrested were released after days of intense interrogation. The other fourteen remain in prison and have not been heard from since the arrest, although no official charges have been brought against them. Elam also reported that these Christians are probably being held in Interrogation Block 209 in the basement of Tehran’s notorious Evin Prison. This is the common practice for dealing with Christians under arrest, according to Iranian sources. Reports of as many as 60 further arrests have also come from Tehran, Mashhad, Isfahan and Urumieh. These Christian prisoners join others such as Pastor Vahik Abrahamian and his wife Sonia Keshish-Avanesian, and Arash Kermanjani and his wife Arezo Teymouri, who were arrested in September.

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