Iranian Christian Teen Detained, Separated from Blind Parents

Authorities from a central Iranian city recently arrested a Christian teen and charged him with insulting the Muslim faith.

Plain clothed officers arrested Daniel Shahri, 19, on April 11 after forcing his sister to call him and tell her brother to return home. His parents, who are both blind and partially disabled, were home during the arrest and were greatly distressed by the incident, reported Farsi Christian News Network.

His parents were told by the officers that their son would be taken to the office of the Ministry of Information and questioned there. But repeated efforts by the parents to contact their son at the office were futile.

Shahri was finally able to contact his parents on April 14 and told them that he was held in a prison in Isfahan and charged with publishing falsities and for insulting the Muslim faith.

Friends of Shahri said the charges are false and described the Christian teen as a very polite and cheerful person who would not insult anyone or anything.

One friend told FCNN that Shahri was involved in a Christian gathering late last year that was raided by intelligence officers. The officers confiscated all the cell phones of the people in attendance. The friend believes that authorities went through the cell phones and found anti-government messages and jokes, which is common among the youth in Iran, on Shahri's phone.

The news agency specializing on Iranian Christians said the arrest of Shahri has resulted in severe stress to his blind parents, who depend on him for their daily needs.

News of the young Christian's arrest comes just weeks after Iranian authorities temporarily freed an Iranian pastor who was arrested while visiting a friend's house in the central city of Isfahan. Pastor Wilson Issavi's family had no information on his whereabouts for weeks until authorities contacted his wife and allowed her to visit her husband in prison.

Christian persecution watchdog groups say Iranian authorities have cracked down harder on Christian leaders, especially those living in Isfahan, since last June's contested election.

Besides the arrests of Christians, authorities in the past year have also been responsible for shutting down three churches on charges of attempting to convert Muslims. None of the three churches was given permission to reopen again yet.

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