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Persecution of Iranian Christians intensifies; 2 women refuse to renounce faith

Catholic World News - August 12, 2009

In recent weeks, Iranian authorities have intensified their persecution of Christians, especially those who have converted from Islam. According to Compass Direct News, two dozen Christians who had gathered together in a house were arrested on July 31 and rearrested on August 7, and an additional eight Christians in another city were arrested on July 29 and 30. On August 9, two women held in the infamous Evin prison-- both converts from Islam-- refused to renounce Christianity when they appeared before the nation’s revolutionary court.

At the recommendation of the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom, the State Department has designated Iran a “country of particular concern” because of its egregious violations of religious freedom. Only 0.02% of the Islamic Republic of Iran’s 66 million people are Catholic, and they, like other minority religious groups, suffer pervasive discrimination and government monitoring of religious activities. It is illegal for Christians to evangelize Muslims, and the conversion of Muslims to Christianity and other religions is punishable by death. According to the State Department, “Christians, particularly evangelicals, continued to be subject to harassment and close surveillance … The government [has] vigilantly enforced its prohibition on proselytizing by closely monitoring the activities of evangelical Christians, discouraging Muslims from entering church premises, closing their churches, and arresting Christian converts.”

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