Iranian Christian Detained in Ahvaz

Sunday, September 5, 2010

By Joseph C. DeCaro, Worthy News International Correspondent

AHVAZ, IRAN (Worthy News)-- Members of a home-based church in the city of Ahvaz are worried about one of their own who has not been heard from since his arrest, Worthy News has learned.

The 27 year-old Neshan Saeedi was arrested by plain-clothes security forces that entered his house on July 24.

The security officers searched his home and seized personal belongings: a computer, CDs of Christian seminars and teachings, Christian books, Bibles, and family photo albums.

Saeedi's family was taken to Chaharshir detention center in Ahvaz for several hours of questioning and harsh interrogation. Security officers said they were apostates who were unworthy of raising their 6 year-old daughter, and if they continued their Christian activities, they might lose custody of her. They were also accused of anti-government activities by acting as agents of foreign powers.

After the interogation, the wife and daughter were released, but no one has seen Saeedi since.

After the arrest, members of the home-based church who fellowshipped with Saeedi have scattered and disbanded. Security agents are desperately seeking two other leaders of the church while Saeedi is presumed to be under great pressure to reveal the names of all church members.


Elam Ministries, an organization supporting churches in Iran, has linked the crackdown on Christians to concern among Iran's leaders about the spread of Christianity in the Islamic nation. "Because Iran is a strategic gateway nation, the growing church in Iran will impact Muslim nations across the Islamic world."

The group said recently that in 1979, there were less than 500 known Christians from a Muslim background in Iran. "Today the most conservative estimate is that there are at least 100,000 believers in the nation."

The perceived hard-line President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has come under international pressure to improve religious rights and abandon his nuclear program. He has denied wrongdoing.