Iranian authorities have arrested 15 Christian converts who attended a family party held in a garden in Firouz-Kouh County.
According to reports, in late August, Iranian security forces crashed a family party and arrested 15 of the guests who are Christian converts. The raid is part of a recently launched police crackdown on family parties and weddings that do not strictly follow Islamic guidelines, Mohabat News explains.
Some of those who were arrested by authorities had previously been detained for evangelizing through their house church â€” an act considered as a crime in the country. Among the Christian converts arrested in the said family party and immediately transported to Evin prison are Amin Afshar Naderi, Amir Saman Dashti, Hadi Asgari, Ramil Bet-Tamraz, and Mohammad Dehnavi.
According to eyewitnesses, Naderi had protested against the harsh way that the police treated the guests. However, the authorities beat him up and proceeded to search the place. They were able to confiscate three Bibles found within the premises.
The families of the arrested Iranian Christians are now worried over the possible reopening of their loved ones' previous cases and additional charges against them. They have also expressed concern over the possibility that those arrested will be forced to make statements against their co-believers on bail.
Meanwhile, the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) released a 2016 report saying Christians and other members of religious minorities in Iran are still experiencing human rights abuses. The said report found that Christians were among the most persecuted and harassed minority group over the last year, Gatestone Institute relays.
In addition, the commission's report revealed that the number of religion-based arrests increased under the rule of President Hassan Rouhani. Iran, on the other hand, reportedly continues to deny accusations of human and religious freedom rights violations thrown against the administration.
In 2015, around 550 Christians have been arrested and detained, according to the report. As of February, at least 90 believers are still in prison because of their religious activities.