Another Christian convert arrested in Dezful

Another Christian convert arrested in Dezful

A second Christian convert has been arrested by intelligence agents in the western city of Dezful, as the crackdown on Christians there gathers pace.

Abdul Ali Pourmand, who is known as Elias, was summoned to the office of the Ministry of Intelligence on 17 October following a raid on his home.

The 38-year-old was at work on his farm when intelligence agents searched his home, confiscating Christian items including Bibles, pamphlets and CDs.

He was then called and told to report to the Ministry of Intelligence offices later that day, upon which he was transferred to Ahvaz Prison.

Elias, who is recently married, was finally able to call home earlier today to let his wife know where he is.

Elias’ arrest came just a week after that of his friend and fellow convert Mohammad Ali (Davoud) Torabi, who was also taken to Ahvaz Prison after his arrest on 10 October. At the time of writing, no information is available on his condition.

Three other local Christian converts have reportedly been summoned for interrogation in recent days, with some of them being beaten and threatened to “repent and return to Islam”.

Local sources report that the Christians have been told that if they do not renounce their faith, they will have to “face the consequences”, such as intense pressure from intelligence agents, being forced to leave the country, or even being killed.

The persecution and arrest of Iranian Christians has intensified in recent years since Ayatollah Khamenei, in a speech in 2010, described the growth of house-churches as one of the “critical” threats to the security of the Islamic Republic.

And yet, Article 23 of the constitution states that “the investigation of individuals’ beliefs is forbidden, and no-one may be molested or taken to task simply for holding a certain belief”.