Iran arrests newly baptised Christian mother and her son for their faith, seizes Bibles in crackdown
Iranian government agents have arrested two newly baptised Christians—a mother and her son—seizing their Bibles and other Christian books.
Anousheh Reza-bakhsh and her son Soheil Zagarzadeh Sani—also known as "Veronika" and "Augustine," respectively—were arrested by Iran's elite Revolutionary Guards on Feb. 20 at their home and taken to an unknown location in Iran's northwestern province, according to Mohabat News, an Iranian Christian news agency.
Veronika and Augustine are "converts to the Catholic Church and were baptized in Istanbul, Turkey in August 2016," Middle East Concern reported.
A Facebook page has been created to draw the world's attention to the latest victims of Christian persecution in Iran.
The two Christians were arrested despite the fact that "both are dealing with health issues," Eliot Assoudeh, an Iranian-American academic at University of Nevada, told Fox News.
"It's been more than two weeks that Iranian authorities have not provided any news on them," he said.
At worst, the two could face the death penalty, said Julie Lenarz of the Human Security Centre in London. "Leaving Islam or converting to another religion is punishable by death in the Islamic Republic of Iran," she told Fox News, noting that years of imprisonment, harassment, and torture are also common for Christians arrested by Iran.
In a previous report, an Iranian Christian convert named Amin Afshar Naderi, who has been languishing in an Iranian prison since August last year, fell "seriously ill" last month after going on a hunger strike.
Naderi and another Christian convert named Hadi Asgari, who is also unwell, have reportedly been refused medical treatment. They were among five Christians who were arrested while having a picnic near Tehran last summer. Their three other fellow Christian converts were able to raise bail and were released.
Open Doors USA, a group that monitors religious freedom and Christian persecution around the world, says Christianity in Iran is often viewed as "a Western influence and a threat to the Islamic identity of the Republic."
This year, the group ranked Iran as the eighth worst country for Christians in the world, describing the persecution level there as "extreme."