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Iran Arrests Six Christian Converts - Sources

Pastor Victor Bet Tamraz, Amin Afshar Naderi and Hadi Asgari, three Christians who were sentenced to between 10 and 15 years in prison in July 2017. File photo

Iranian security has arrested six Iranian Christian converts in the northern city of Rasht during February, according to sources who spoke to Radio Farda.

Converting to another religion is forbidden in Islam and in countries where religious law applies converts can be prosecuted. Iran regularly arrests Christian converts, whose numbers have been rising in recent years, reaching tens of thousands or more according to some estimates.

A well-informed source named the detainees as: Khalil Pour-Dehghan, Hossein Kadivar, Abdolreza Ali Haghnezhad, Kamal Nemanian, Mohammad Vafadar and Mohammad Eslamdoost.

Dozens of other Christian converts have been arrested in the past decade in Iran, some receiving lengthy prison sentences.

Muslims who convert to Christianity usually assume new names, but they cannot do it openly and officially. Their new Christian names remain known only to a close circle of other converts.

Iran allows traditional Eastern Orthodox and Catholic Christian minorities to practice their religion, but it persecutes missionary churches, which exist in secrecy.

United Nations organs and committees, as well as international human rights organizations have repeatedly urged the Islamic Republic to respect the right to choose one’s religion and beliefs, which are supposed to be protected by Iran’s international obligations.