RFL/RE – An Iranian man who converted to Christianity is still in custody after being arrested December 10, 2017, a spokesman for human rights group Article 18 confirmed in an interview with Radio Farda.
Article 18 in Defense of Iranian Christians, an NGO that takes its name from the article guaranteeing religious freedom in Iran’s constitution, reported on its website that Ali Amini (also known as Philip Amini) is still behind bars in the northwestern city of Tabriz.
“The agents stormed the shop where Ali Amini worked, arrested him, and seized all his personal belongings, including his cellphone and laptop,” the website reported.
Amini, who reportedly converted to Christianity in October 2017, is married and is the father of two children, a three-year-old and a one-year-old.
While religious minorities, including Christians, are officially protected in Iran, “apostasy” or converting from Islam to another religion is against the law. It is also illegal to publish the Bible in the Persian language and to attend unapproved “home” churches.
Article 18 also reports that a member of an Evangelical Church, Naser Navar-Goltapeh, has been transferred to Tehran’s notorious Evin Prison to serve a ten-year sentence. He was charged with “acts against national security” and running a home church.
“Charges against these Christians are legally unfounded, and their conviction to 10 years’ imprisonment is violating the obvious right of freedom of opinion,” Mansour Borji, an activist affiliated with Article 18 told Radio Farda in a previous interview. “So many Christians in Iran are accused of merely attending Mass and prayer gatherings even in the privacy of their homes. They are all waiting for the Revolutionary Courts’ verdict against them.”
Borji says the persecution of Christians by the Islamic Republic’s intelligence and security agents is politically motivated and against respected international laws and standards.
“Tehran is spending millions on Islamic propaganda and orchestrating a religious crackdown targeting the growing population of Christian converts, but a mission group has revealed that these measures have done nothing to stop people from embracing Christianity,” wrote Mohabat News, another news site reporting on Christians in Iran.
Despite harsh treatment by authorities, Christians in Iran are one of the fastest-growing religious communities in the world, according to the research organization Operation World.