Published: 14:00 GMT Standard Time - Monday 19 March 2012
Iranian church threatened with bombing if it continues Farsi services
Country/Region: Iran, Middle East and North Africa
Another church in Tehran has been ordered to stop holding services in the Iranian national language on Fridays, and has been threatened with a bomb attack if it does not comply.
Officers from a Ministry of the Interior department that deals with interfaith matters served the notice, which came into effect as of Friday 24 February, to the Armenian Evangelical Church in the country’s capital. They added an unofficial threat that if the order is ignored, the church building will be bombed “as happens in Iraq every day”.
It comes after two other Tehran churches, Emmanuel Protestant Church and St Peter Evangelical Church, were also ordered to stop holding services in Farsi on Fridays.
Friday is the main weekend-day in Iran, so it is easier for people to attend a church service on this day than Sunday, which is a work day.
The Armenian Evangelical Church was one of the few established churches in Iran that was still allowed to hold Persian language services.
A report by Farsi Christian News Network said:
It now seems likely that the Islamic authorities have imagined that with this new restriction they will somehow hold back the rapid, and evidently extremely worrying, spread of Christianity amongst the people under their yoke.
In a further attempt by the authorities to clamp down on the rapidly growing Iranian Church, they have permanently shut discipleship classes for new Christians run for decades by the Tehran Central Assembly of God Church on Saturdays.
Security agents have been rounding up Christians in a sweep of arrests across the country since Christmas.