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Iran intensifies persecution of Christians; ‘apostate’ pastor jailed again

Catholic World News - January 02, 2013

Iran has intensified its repression of Protestant churches, as has become the custom at Christmas time.

On Christmas Day, Yousef Nadarkhani was again imprisoned, according to Christian Solidarity Worldwide, a British organization that monitors the persecution of Christians.

Nadarkhani, a Protestant pastor and convert from Islam, was acquitted of apostasy charges in September but found guilty of evangelizing Muslims, for which he must now serve 45 additional days of prison time. His original 2010 death sentence on apostasy charges was not carried out following an international outcry.

On December 27, 50 Christians were detained after authorities disrupted a Christmas gathering at a Tehran home. The 60-year-old pastor remains imprisoned.

The incidents follow the arrest of Saeed Abedini, a Protestant pastor who holds dual US-Iranian citizenship.

98% of Iran’s 78.9 million people are Muslims; most other Iranians are Jews, Christians, Baha’is, or Zoroastrians. 0.02% are Catholic.

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