More than two dozen Christian men, women and children celebrating Christmas earlier this week in their church located in the southern Iranian city of “Ahvaz” were promptly arrested and hauled off to a local jail. The small evangelical congregation was hauled into two buses that were waiting for them in what local witnesses described as a planned raid by the local police. What was their supposed crime? Well accordingly to Iranian officials, these families were allegedly proselytizing Christianity among Muslims in Iran which the current government considers illegal and is punishable by death! While the worshipers of this Iranian church were eventually released, their pastor, Farhad Sabokrouh and his wife still remain in jail and are being held on crimes against Islam.
This horrid Christmas day raid and arrest of innocent Christian families in Iran is yet another prime example of the pure evil nature of Iran’s regime, which despite its propaganda machine, has zero tolerance for individuals who are not from the Shiite Islamic faith. It’s a travesty that the news media in the West have given no coverage to this story and governments in Europe and the U.S. have remained silent while the Iranian regime commits this unspeakable crime on Christmas, a day of peace and holiness for billions of people worldwide. What amazes me the most is how the depraved Iranian police can handcuffed and hauled off to jail innocent children! How can this heinous Iranian regime accuse children, of all people, for proselytizing Christianity?!
What is most hypocritical of this entire fiasco is the fact that just a day earlier the speaker of the Iranian parliament, Ali Larijani sent Christmas greetings to Pope Benedict XVI. The audacity of the Iranian regime to attempt to curry favor with the Pope and attempt to “improve their tarnished image” in the world while at the same time persecuting innocent Christian families in their own country is just remarkable! Where is the outage from the international community and the Vatican for this crime against innocent Christian families in Iran? Why hasn’t the current Pope denounced the Iranian regime for this unspeakable crime committed on Christmas against families in Iran? It seems as if while Pope John Paul II had the courage to speak out against the evils of Communist regimes in Russia and Eastern Europe more than 30 years ago, the current Pope Benedict XVI lacks the same courage to speak out against the evils of Islamo-fascism spewing out of Iran.
The Christmas arrest in Iran is not the first incident of Christian persecution by the Iranian regime. The government in Iran since 1979 has systematically persecuted non-Muslims in Iran (especially Jews, Bahais and Zoroastrians) including Christians. Individuals from the Christian faith have typically been imprisoned or executed— and of them, many were former Muslims who converted to Christianity or encouraged other Muslims to convert to Christianity. For instance, in October 2009, an Iranian Christian Evangelical pastor, Youcef Nadarkhani was arrested in his home by Iranian police in the city of Rasht after seeking to register his house church. In September 2010, Nadarkhani, who is married with two children, was found guilty of abandoning Islam and sentenced to death. While his case is pending appeal, the Iranian judiciary has offered to spare Nadarkhani’s life if he denounces Christianity and returns to Islam. To the contrary, Nadarkhani has refused to leave his faith and remains imprisoned as the Iranian regime attempts to use whatever means possible to force his conversion back to Islam. Nadarkhani’s case has uniquely gained international attention with media coverage of the story in Europe and the West which has placed some pressure of Iranian’s leadership. Yet the case remains unresolved and just before Christmas this year, an Iranian court ordered Nadarkhani be imprisoned for another year before being executed.
The millions of practicing evangelical Christians and other Christians in the U.S., Canada and South America must demand that their governments and the U.N. hold Iran’s regime accountable for their Christmas crimes against innocent Christian families in Iran. The world cannot continue to remain silent while the Iranian government continues to persecute peoples of others faiths and blatantly violates human rights. What should scare the international community is the clear fact that the same Iranian regime that abuses and threatens its own Christian population would not hesitate to do the same to other countries in the world if their regime ever obtains nuclear weapons.