According to Iranian Christian news agency, « Mohabat News», a Christian couple who were official members of Immanuel Evangelical Church, were arrested in their home in Karaj by security authorities.
Mehrdad Sajadi, an engineer, and his wife Forough Dashtiani who were presbyters and teachers in Immanuel Evangelical Church in Tehran were arrested on May 24, 2012 when plain clothes security authorities raided their home in Karaj, providing no reason for it.
They were transferred to an unknown location after their arrest. Unofficial sources say, they were transferred to Evin prison.
Not only did the security authorities arrest them, but they also thoroughly searched their home and seized some of their personal belongings.
Despite their family's follow up efforts to obtain information regarding their situation and the location where they are being held, no information has been made available by security and judicial authorities during the 12 days since their arrest. Also, the family's request to visit their loved ones has been turned down. This lack of information has caused considerable anxiety among the couple's family and friends.
As for now, it is not clear why they were arrested. However, it is possible that their arrest is related to the increase of pressure on Christian communities and evangelical churches in Iran. The pressures have resulted in the issuance of new orders by security authorities regarding members of evangelical churches.
In addition, the arrest of six cult members (non-Trinitarian) was reported in recent weeks. These arrests took place in Karaj. However, it is said that the detainees were released after spending one day in custody.
- Security organizations pressure Evangelical Churches
According to published reports on the situation of churches holding Farsi services for Farsi-speaking believers, the pressures and restrictions by the Islamic regime of Iran on these churches are increasing tremendously.
Following the increased restriction on Iranian Christian converts and the issuance of new orders by the Intelligence Ministry, the arrest of, and pressure on, leaders and officials of Evangelical Churches in Tehran and other cities have been scheduled by Iranian authorities.
According to reports, the leaders of the Central AOG Church in Tehran asked their members on the service on Sunday, May 6, 2012 to submit a list of their names and National Identification Numbers as well as their other personal details to the church leaders so that they could provide the Intelligence Ministry with the information. The demand can enable security authorities to record Christian convert's personal details.
Also, in February 2011, Farsi services in two churches in Tehran were ordered to be cancelled by the Intelligence Ministry. The Protestant Immanuel Church and Evangelical St. Peter Church were the two churches targeted in the order. These churches were the only churches in Tehran where Farsi services were held on Fridays. Prior to that, the Central AOG Church in Tehran was also ordered by the Islamic regime to cancel their Farsi service on Fridays which is the official weekend in Iran.
Such moves are part of the regime's policy to restrict Christian activities. Such reports indicate that the Islamic government of Iran is so firm in its decision to restrict Iranian Christian converts' access to worship services.
Although operating groups and masterminds at the Intelligence Ministry have even cancelled Farsi services in some churches in recent months, they have not been able to keep Iranians and Christian converts from attending church services. This shows the failure of the threats designed to stop the growth of Christianity in Iran. / Farsi