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30 May 2012

Iran – Ministry of Intelligence further restricts Farsi-Speaking churches

markaz-church-tehran.jpgIn addition to the increased restrictions against Iranian Christian converts, the Ministry of Intelligence has now ordered the leaders of the central AOG church in Tehran to compile a list of the names and National ID numbers of its members and submit it to the security authorities

According to Iranian Christian news agency, Mohabat News, reports from Tehran indicate that leaders of the central AOG church of Tehran asked their congregation in Sunday May 6 service to voluntarily present them with a list of their names and National ID numbers so that they submit the list to the officials. This reveals the identity of Christian converts and enables security authorities to record detailed information about the Christians.

It is clear that such a decision by the leaders of the AOG church, is a result of pressures the security authorities have been imposing on them. This seems to be a precautionary move by the security organizations to identify Christians and possibly use the information later to arrest Christian converts and watch the activities of the church even more closely, especially to prevent them from receiving new people. Such orders by security authorities make Christians' relationship with their church riskier than ever.

This security move by Iranian authorities reveals that even after cancelling the Farsi services in some churches, they have not been successful in reducing the number of Christian converts and the trend by other people to attend the church. In recent months, organizers and operational groups of the Ministry of Intelligence ordered the last two churches in Tehran still holding Farsi services, to cancel these services. However, this has not stopped Christians from attending church services and illustrates the failure of all these repressive plans and threats which were designed to deal with spread of Christianity in Iran.

In February, 2012, the Farsi services in two churches in Tehran were cancelled following an order issued by the Ministry of Intelligence of the Islamic Republic. The two churches were the Protestant Church of Emmanuel and the Evangelical Church of St. Peter. These two were the only churches in Tehran offering Farsi services on Fridays. Prior to this, in 2009 the same thing happened to the central AOG church in Tehran and its Farsi services on Friday were discontinued.

Many members of the central AOG church in Tehran have been martyred by terrorists of the Islamic regime of Iran and the church itself has been under close watch for a long time. Some 20 years ago, also, the security authorities of the Ministry of Intelligence demanded such a list of names and personal details of the members of the church, but the church leaders at that time refused to submit to this demand.

Although the threats, arrests, imprisonments and tortures of Christians converts have backfired, and instead of preventing it the growth of Christianity in Iran has increased.The Ministry of Intelligence believes that the implementation of newer tactics and restrictions such as demanding Christians personal details would put them in quandary and confuse them whether give their information to the church or not. They assume that these would cause people to stop attending church services.

On the other hand, as part of their anti-Christian strategies, the officials in the think tank of the Ministry of Intelligence, design these orders to terrorize Christians and somehow show that the Islamic republic has sufficient power to identify Christian converts and summon or arrest them whenever it chooses to do so.

It is also obvious that the Ministry of Intelligence is giving a signal to dissuade Christians from attending church services by requesting their personal details, and thereby cause a drop in the number of attendees at church services. Some of those converted to Christianity are students at universities or are employed by government-run organizations, and thus it would certainly impact both their record and their future.

- The other side of the coin

However, the positive point in such actions is the spread of "House-churches". Christians who are forced out of official churches would attend house churches which help spread Christianity among families. This has created an opportunity for Christians to have a house church in every corner of the city.

- Why the Islamic Republic cannot shut down churches

Considering the prevailing situation in Iran, one wonders why the Islamic republic has not been successful in closing churches despite all the measures it has taken to achieve this goal? The Islamic republic pressures and restricts churches and uses different tactics to empty churches. At tines, security authorities attend Sunday church service to spy on Christians. It is also said that they have installed hidden CCTVs in some church hallways and yet they have not been successful in their anti-Christian plans.

One of the answers could be that it seems the official churches are only exist in the Islamic Republic for display purposes to be able to say that churches are operating in Iran and to create a positive image from the regime in the international community and also to show them off to the few tourists who travel to Iran and make them believe Christians enjoying freedom in Iran and announce that the doors of churches are open to Christian minorities and have played a fundamental role in religious coexistence!

The representatives of religious minorities in the Iranian parliament also operate in the same way and are serving the political purposes of the Islamic Republic of Iran to present a nice picture of Iran to the international community. Instead of using their position to defend the rights of religious minorities, these representatives are operating as a shortcut for the implementation of the evil decisions of the Islamic Republic to further restrict religious minorities.

22:25 Posted in Iran | Permalink | Comments (0) |  Facebook |

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