Iran has arrested 12 christians in less than two months for practicing their faith over increased government fears of the spread of Christianity.
The Center For Human Rights In Iran (CHRI) noted Thursday the arrest of 11 Christian converts and the leader Iran’s Assyrian Pentecostal Church as a “disturbing trend” in judicial persecution against Christians, according to Radio Free Europe. Iranian courts charged Christians with blasphemy, operating house churches, and blasphemy for drinking wine as part of the communion rite, despite the Iranian constitution’s recognition of the religion.(RELATED: Iranians Arrest Christians On ‘Blasphemy’ Charges)
Human rights group Article 18 said the Iranian government increased persecution of Christians because the Islamic government’s fear of Christians conversions, according to World Watch Monitor.
“It could be interpreted as a sign that they want to send a message to the Iranian Christians inside the country, and perhaps also to the wider world,” Mansour Borji of Article 18 told World Watch Monitor. “The charges are out of fear, the sentences are harsh and out of fear, and the whole way the court hearings have been conducted – and how people are threatened and intimidated not to go public with their stories – tells us about how the Iranian government is fearful of the growth of Christianity inside Iran.”
Muslims in Iran are under threat of the death penalty if they convert to another religion, and the 12 Christians most recently sentenced to harsh jail times are only the latest in a series of arrests made against Christians in recent years in Iran, according to CHRI.
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