Iranian government cracks down on believers


Iranian police have launched a more extensive crackdown on "social corruption" throughout the Islamic Republic, reports MNN.

Voice of the Martyrs' Todd Nettleton says a religion law is causing them concern. "It makes the death penalty mandatory for people convicted of leaving Islam to follow another faith. So that, obviously, is another piece of intimidation."

The draft law, which first appeared on the radar in February, defines an apostate as "any Muslim who clearly announces that he/she has left Islam and declares blasphemy." It is clearly aimed at stopping conversion from Islam. It also means that those thought to be involved with proselytism face consequences ranging from the death penalty to social ostracism.

Recently, authorities have been rounding up church leaders. 44-year old Mohsen Namvar was among those arrested. "There has been, over the last 60 days, about a dozen Christians arrested. Most of them have been interrogated and held for a little while, and then released after paying a heavy bail. As far as we know, at this time, Mr. Namvar is still being held."
According to a report from Compass Direct, Namvar believed a Christian had implicated him during an earlier sweep. He had anticipated the arrest after being warned that authorities were watching him. It is the second time that he has faced arrest. He was previously held and tortured for baptizing Muslim converts to Christianity in the spring of 2007.

Why the focus on believers? Nettleton says, "The church is growing at an absolutely phenomenal rate in Iran. Muslims are coming to know Christ; they're getting involved with these house church groups. That is what has caused the concern of the government. That's why these arrests are happening."