Iranian government cracks down on believers

By June 19, 2008

Iran (MNN) — Iranian police have
launched a more extensive crackdown on "social corruption" throughout
the Islamic Republic. 

Voice of the Martyrs' Todd
Nettleton says a religion law is causing them concern. "It makes the death
penalty mandatory for people convicted of leaving Islam to follow another
faith. So that, obviously, is another piece of intimidation." 

The draft law, which first appeared
on the radar in February, defines an apostate as "any Muslim who clearly
announces that he/she has left Islam and declares blasphemy." It is clearly aimed at stopping conversion
from Islam. It also means that those thought
to be involved with proselytism face consequences ranging from the death
penalty to social ostracism.

Recently, authorities have been
rounding up church leaders. 44-year old
Mohsen Namvar was among those arrested. "There has been, over the last 60 days,
about a dozen Christians arrested. Most
of them have been interrogated and held for a little while, and then released
after paying a heavy bail. As far as we know, at this time, Mr. Namvar is still
being held." 

According to a report from Compass
Direct, Namvar believed a Christian had
implicated him during an earlier sweep. He had anticipated the arrest after being warned that authorities were
watching him. It is the second time that
he has faced arrest. He was previously
held and tortured for baptizing Muslim converts to Christianity in the spring
of 2007.

Why the focus on believers?
Nettleton says, "The church is growing at an absolutely phenomenal rate in
Iran. Muslims are coming to know Christ; they're getting involved with these
house church groups. That is what has caused the concern of the government. That's why these arrests are happening."

Pray for strength, wisdom, and
grace for Iranian Christians as they continue to spread the Gospel despite
sustained pressure from the Islamic government of the nation

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