By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent Worthy News
TEHRAN (Worthy News) - Iranian Christians have urged prayers for a house church leader who they say remains detained after being arrested at his home in Anzali on April 18.
A dozen plain-clothes Iranian intelligence agents raided the home of Rahmat Rostamipour, 49, early in the morning, according to Christians familiar with the case.
The officers reportedly confiscated Bibles, identity documents, as well as mobile phones and tablets belonging to his two children.
“The agents had intended on arresting Rahmat’s wife, Azar, but during the raid, their teenage daughter was traumatized and suffered a panic attack,” added advocacy group Middle East Concern (MEC).
“Azar was instead summoned the following day to security offices for interrogation. He was interrogated on April 19 for several hours and verbally accused of propaganda against the regime through involvement in house-church activities. Neither Azar nor Rahmat has been formally charged,” MEC told Worthy News.
In comments shared with Worthy News, Iranian Christians requested prayers that Rostamipour, a Christian convert, will be released soon by the authorities of the strict Islamic nation. They also pray that he and his wife “will not be charged with criminal activity based on their faith or Christian activities.”
MEC said Christians hope that God “will comfort the family and give His peace and that the children will not suffer anxiety or emotional trauma.” The Christians pray that “Iranian authorities will stop the persecution of people for their faith or lack thereof.”
It comes amid a broader reported crackdown on Christians with a Muslim background in Iran. “Converts from Islam to Christianity are most at risk of persecution, especially from the government and to a lesser extent from society and their own families,” said advocacy group Open Doors. “The government sees the church's growth in Iran as an attempt by Western countries to undermine Islam and the Islamic regime of Iran.”
It added that house church groups of converts from Muslim backgrounds are often raided. And “both their leaders and members have been arrested, prosecuted and given long prison sentences for ‘crimes against national security,’” the group added.
Iran ranks 9th on the annual Open Doors World Watch List of 50 nations, where it claims it is most challenging to be a Christian. Christians comprise at least some 800,000 people in the Muslim-majority nation of roughly 87 million people, according to Christian estimates.