ISTANBUL– Speeches by Iranian religious and political figures between August and October who acknowledged the existence of home fellowships and condemned them as a threat to the state triggered Iran's crackdown on Christians in the past few months, analysts said.
In the past few weeks, Iranian authorities have arrested more than 70 Christians after previous round-ups near Christmas, according to a report last week by Elam Ministries. With the release of seven Christians last week after they spent a month in solitary confinement, at least 26 Christians remain incarcerated. Sources said that with the arrests across the country continuing, the number of Christians detained since Christmas could be as high as 120.
Though authorities have released most of the Christians after interrogations, many of them are still in prison, especially house group leaders. Many released in the last month had to sign statements saying they would not attend church again.
Iranian leaders have described house churches as the work of the "enemy," analysts said. On