Since December 25, Iran has arrested approximately 70 Christians in an apparent crack-down of those who follow the faith. The arrests appear to focus on individuals who have converted from Islam or sought to convert others – actions punishable by death in Iran.
According to reports, armed security officers forcibly entered the homes of Christians and verbally and physically abused them before arresting and carrying them off to be interrogated. Some of the arrested were reportedly released after being coerced into saying they would no longer participate in Christian activities.
Iranian women shop for Christmas gifts in Tehran.
The Iranian government takes great pride in allowing its Christians, Jews, and Zoroastrian minorities to practice their religions and elect a small number of representatives to the Iranian parliament. But that’s as far as religious freedoms extend in Tehran, as proselytizing and converting others is illegal, places of worship are subjected to oversight, and Bibles cannot be printed, nor can the Christian mass be held, in Persian.
According to analysts, the arrests may be yet another example of how the powerful Revolutionary Guards Corps is exerting an increased influence over Iranian government and society. Indeed, this does not bode well for the future of religions other than Islam in Iran.