Iran’s regime started arresting Evangelicals last week, Dabrina Bet-Tamraz told Al Arabiya.
“Christmas celebrations make it easier for Iranian authorities to arrest a group of Christians at one time,” Tamraz said.
She escaped Iran nine years ago, after her family was arrested for their Christian beliefs and she witnessed the arrest, torture and murder of Christian pastors.
This may become a Christmas tradition.
Last year a “staggering” number of Evangelicals were arrested before Christmas. The Christians were told to write their details and history of all their Christian activities. They were told not to contact any other Christians or groups.
Iran considers evangelism – Christians sharing their faith – a criminal act. The regime wants to intimidate Christians from praying, singing, or wearing a cross in public.
Christmas causes Iranian people to be attracted to Christianity, one Christian leader said.
“If you are a Christian in Iran and do not evangelize, and do not advertise your religion, you will not go to jail. Christians that do go to jail in Iran are converts or evangelizing. Historically, Christians are known to evangelize. This is what makes them a threat,” Marine Nemat told Al Arabiya. Nemat, an Iranian Catholic, was arrested for political activities following the 1979 revolution.
The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom reports that Iran jails Christians for holding private Christmas gatherings, house churches, and constructing or renovating churches. The Commission adopted Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani in its “Religious Prisoners of Conscience Project”. He is in jail for “apostacy” and “evangelism”.
Bet-Tamraz said Christians around the world can take courage from Iranian Christian’ strong faith.
“We should pray for them and take courage by their faith,” she said at the United Nations’ event on religious freedom this year.
“Despite the arrests and persecution and high pressure from the government, Christians still gather and celebrate the birth of Christ and do not allow the government to create fear.”
- Iranian Christians to be strong and courageous – and free.
- Iran’s leaders, police, prison guards, and judges to be visited by Jesus.
- Families of arrested Christians to be encouraged.
Photo: Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani imprisoned for “apostacy” and “evangelism” (Courtesy of USCIRF)