Iran: Concerns over anti-Christian rhetoric

On a regular basis, Iranian Islamic clerics re-state their hostile attitude towards Christianity and give unfounded information to provoke security authorities to take action against Christians in their country.

"This is all done with one purpose in mind, which is to increase pressure on Christians and Christian converts in Iran," said a spokesperson for Mohabat News.

Fars, the semi-official news agency backed by the Revolutionary Guards, reported that Hojatol-Eslam Mohammad Hassan Akhtari, the General Secretary of government-funded organisation Ahl Al-bayt World Assembly recently said: "Christian booklets and brochures are being sent to people's doors for free in many areas." He also claimed, "This is not something new."

Stressing that Islam is under a broad and intense attack, he said, "Christianity is being preached in many shops in the Islamic city of Mashhad. Also Christian booklets are sent to people's addresses without restrictions."

Jomhouri-Eslami, the regime-supported daily paper, recently published a report stating, "House churches have grown in Mashhad over the past few months. Also, some reports indicate that 200 house churches are recognised in the Islamic city."

The Mohabat News spokesperson went on to say, "It is worth mentioning that Mashhad is an Islamic pilgrimage destination and the birthplace of Iran's Supreme Leader, Seyyed Ali Khamenei."

According to Mohabat, the regime supported website Khabar-Online has emphasised the need for an integrated programme to deal with Christian and Baha'i activities in the country.

Mr Akhtari also reportedly stated that because the evangelists' activities that are broad and widely spread across different parts of the country, it is difficult to keep track of them.

Akhtari reportedly said, "We should come up with thousands of websites and books to be able to fight back with this wave of evangelism."

The Mohabat report said: "Of course, the Islamic cleric did not provide any supporting evidence for his claim. However, it seems their sole purpose in bringing up and repeating these claims is to provoke security authorities against, and provide the means for increased pressure on Iranian Christians converts.

"It is noteworthy that as always, these reports are published by news services affiliated with the Revolutionary Court. Reports of this kind pave the way for security authorities to crack down freely on religious minorities.

"Such anti-Christian remarks by pro-regime Islamic clerics are made to stimulate security authorities to oppress Christians. This also shows that today one of the great concerns of the Iranian religious system is the growth of Christianity in the country."

Source: ASSIST News Service