Friday, 25 September 2009

Open Doors: Christians At Risk Inside Iran While Ahmadinejad Talks At UN

Controversial Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is scheduled to address the United Nations General Assembly today. While he speaks, the nation's Christian minority continues to face severe persecution.

Many Iranians are disenchanted with the Islamist government's brutal policies – illustrated on Friday when security forces clashed with supporters of opposition leader Mihrossein Mousavi. Many citizens feel frustrated by Islam 30 years after the Islamic Revolution.

They are searching for spiritual truth and some are finding it in Jesus. More than 100,000 are secret Christian believers from a Muslim background who often meet together in rapidly growing house churches.

Such believers are actively targeted by authorities. In 2008, at least 50 Christians, mostly Muslim converts, were arrested, interrogated, tortured, intimidated and some even killed. It marked the toughest year regarding Christian persecution since the Islamic Revolution.

At the same time, the number of official Christians has halved from 250,000 Armenian and Assyrian Christians before the Islamic revolution of 1979 to around 125,000 now. Many have left Iran as a result of discrimination and persecution. Since the election of President Ahmadinedjad in 2005, Christian persecution has increased with security forces rigidly enforcing anti-Christian legislation.

Rostam, a Muslim Background Believer who is receiving discipleship training in Iran, says: "My wife panicked the last time the police came to our home as they threatened to rape our 9-year-old daughter. I have been arrested several times. The secret police want to know who is in the house churches, where we meet and all about us. I have told them nothing."

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