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Asia

2011-10-03

ASIA/IRAN - Iranian Christians threatened and rejected by other states where they escape

Tehran (Agenzia Fides) - While the world remains in suspense waiting for the resolution of the Iranian Christian Pastor Yousef Nadarkhani’s case - sentenced to death for apostasy - the faithful Iranians are forced to flee the country to be able to freely practice their religion and are, however, under pressure.
As reported to Fides by the NGO "Christian Solidarity Worldwide", which monitors the rights of Christians in the world, eleven Iranian Christians have fled Iran because of persecution against the Christian evangelical community, they have received death threats by e- mail. The senders of the message, have signed themselves as "unknown Soldiers of the Hidden Imam" and ask them to repent, or else "will be eliminated without mercy". According to Fides sources, the "unknown Soldiers" are accused of having ties with Iranian secret intelligence. According to rev. Samuel Yeghnazar, who participated in the house church movement in Iran, "the threat is to be taken very seriously".
Meanwhile in Rashat, the local court- to which the Supreme Court has remanded the case - is to pronounce a verdict on the case of Pastor Nadarkhani. According to some Christian sources in Iran, the fate of the Pastor is in the hands of a local religious leader, Ayatollah Ghorbani. Christians fear that the Pastor may be attributed false accusations (such as rape and or conspiracy against the established order) to justify a final death sentence.
Over the last eleven months at least 137 Christians have undergone arbitrary arrests and about 40 were kept in prison for several weeks. The threats to the lives of Christians in Iran, says Pastor Yeghnazar, show "the absolute hypocrisy of a government that claims to give the faithful full religious freedom".
Moreover, according to CSW "it is vital that countries that host refugees and Iranian asylum seekers ensure them adequate protection". In fact, in Australia, Iranian Christians asylum seekers have been labeled as "troublemakers" by immigration officials, who denied the entry visa. The number of Iranians seeking asylum in Australia was 197 in 2009-2010 and 1,549 in 2011. The visas granted were only 27% of those who had applied. (PA) (Agenzia Fides 03/10/2011)

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