Despite the Iranian government's ongoing crackdown of Christians living in the primarily Islamic country, the number of Muslims converting to become Christians is growing at an explosive rate, according to the persecution watchdog group Open Doors USA.
There is even talk of witnessing a Christian revival, especially among young people living in the country, say Open Doors ministry workers in the Middle East.
A house church movement within Iran is part of that revival and has triggered "many secret meetings." The growth in the number of Christians is happening in all regions, but mostly in larger cities, say Open Doors workers in the region. more >>
In a rare crackdown on a concentrated area, Iranian authorities have arrested Christians living in the country's third largest city in what is seen as a tactic to discourage Muslims and converts to Christianity from attending official churches.
Since last month officials have arrested about 12 Christian converts in Isfahan, 340 kilometers (211 miles) south of Tehran. Authorities have arrested leaders and members of churches meeting in buildings, as well as some from underground churches, according to Mohabat News.
The targeted arrests started on Feb. 22, when intelligence officers arrested approximately seven Christians at their homes between 6 a.m. and 7 a.m., Mohabat reported. Authorities raided their homes and confiscated valuables, including Bibles, computers, identification and other documents, and in one case even pictures decorating walls. more >>
An Iranian envoy has denied an execution order was issued for Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani, but revealed a list of charges against the evangelical Christian that allegedly make him guilty of "offending Islam."
The envoy's denial was prompted by human rights investigator Ahmed Shaheed, who on Monday openly condemned Iran's imprisonment of Nadarkhani in a 36-page report, presented to several U.N. representatives at the Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland.
According to Tiffany Barrans of the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), who was present at Monday's council, Shaheed encouraged the Iranian authorities to "reassess the cases of all those listed in [his] report and to reconsider the aforementioned cases presented here today." He specifically mentioned Nadarkhani, saying "Pastor Yousef [sic] Nadarkhani who has been sentenced to death for apostasy..." more >>
The American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) has been at the forefront of Iranian pastor Youcef Nadarkhani's court case, and the group's many endeavors, namely its "Tweet for Youcef" campaign and congressional petition, have seen substantial results.
Those who sign up for the "Tweet for Youcef" campaign allow the ACLJ to use their Twitter accounts to post a daily Nadarkhani update, which includes the number of days Nadarkhani has been imprisoned, facts about his court case, and a link back to the ACLJ's Nadarkhani information page.
Since the campaign began in mid-February, it has gained a substantial following, now reaching 1.1 million Twitter users per day in 89 percent of the world's nations. more >>
The American Center for Law and Justice's sources in Iran confirmed Saturday that Iranian pastor Youcef Nadarkhani is in fact alive, and rumors that he was to be executed over the weekend were false.
Photos surfaced on the Internet Saturday, allegedly showing a blindfolded Nadarkhani facing execution by hanging. These photos are outdated and false, the ACLJ reported Saturday.
Although Nadarkhani is still alive, the ACLJ does still believe that Iranian courts have issued an execution order. In the past, Iran has not informed the public of an execution, oftentimes dropping the prisoner's executed body on the family's doorstep. more >>
The past few weeks have shown a great, unified increase in support for Iranian pastor Youcef Nadarkhani, who has been imprisoned in Iran since Oct. 2009 for his Christian faith. Pressure from the global community has been credited with preventing Iran from carrying out his death sentence, but is it up to the United States to do more?
According to Lindsay Vessey, advocacy director for religious persecution watchdog Open Doors USA, all international persecution cases should receive as much attention as Nadarkhani's has. The United States has shown great resolve in helping Nadarkhani's plight, and Vessey believes that the U.S. should be the world's guiding light in defending religious liberties.
This is one of the reasons why Open Doors USA has created the Presidential Pledge for Religious Freedom, written several months ago in preparation for the upcoming 2012 presidential elections. more >>