Iranian intelligence question Christian converts after arrests

4 May 2021

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New information has come to light concerning the arrests of four Christian converts from Islam on 19 April in Dezful in the south-west of Iran. 

Esmaeil Narimanpour, Mohammad Ali Torabi, Alireza Varak-Shah and Hojat Lotfi-Khalaf were temporarily released on Wednesday 21 April after signing an agreement to report to the Intelligence Office immediately upon being summoned.

Hojat Lotfi-Khalaf, Esmaeil Narimanpour, Mohammad Ali Torabi and Alireza Varak-Shah were arrested in Dezful on 19 April [Image credit: Mohabat News]

On 22 April, another 10 to 15 Christian converts and house church members were summoned by the Intelligence Office department in Dezful. Though they were released the same day, they too were forced to sign an agreement that stated they would not attend any house churches or associate themselves to any Christian community or house churches. In practice, this kind of agreement also serves as a way to pressure people into reconverting to Islam and denouncing the Christian faith. This is a very common practice by the Intelligence Office in Iran.

Dezful is located in Khuzestan province, where 16 cities have been designated as red zones by the Iranian National Committee on Covid-19.

A knowledgeable source disclosed that Esmaeil Narimanpour was beaten while held at the Intelligence Office. Other Christians summoned to the office were physically assaulted while being held in the Dezful detention centre.

This source revealed that all Christian converts were questioned about their political thoughts, in particular their opinion on the Islamic Revolution and whether they will be participating in the upcoming presidential election.

Of those arrested or summoned for questioning in Dezful, some had prior experience with summons and arrests, while others were summoned or arrested for the first time.

During the last presidential elections in Iran, Christian persecution saw a slight reduction in the months leading up to election day. This time, although the presidential election is less than a couple of months away, pressure on Iranian Christians seems to be on the rise. 

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