Iranian intelligence agents arrested four Christian converts on 19 April in a series of detentions in Dezful in the south-west of Iran.
The men were identified as Esmaeil Narimanpour, Mohammad Ali Torabi (also known as Davoud), Alireza Varak-Shah and Hojjat Lotfi Khalaf.
Esmaeil and Hojjat were arrested during morning raids on their homes, while Davoud was detained after agents went to his shop before taking him with them to search his home.
Of these three, only Davoud was allowed to contact his family, hours after his arrest, to confirm that he was in good health. The details of Alireza’s arrest are unknown at the time of writing.
A number of other converts were summoned for questioning the following day. Action against national security is the charge that is issued most frequently against Christians as well as against political dissidents.
The Iranian Government appears to have a strategy of harassing converts (and other non-recognised religious groups) in order to get them to emigrate or return to Islam. It is a common tactic of the Iranian authorities to release and arrest converts continually, in order to exhaust them psychologically, frighten them and push them to make one of two decisions: to confess and return to Islam or to flee the country. Officials have in some instances openly but unofficially suggested converts leave. With many leaders in self-imposed exile, convert groups are lacking leaders with the necessary theological and Biblical education.