Guest / Limited Access /

The government of Iran has officially denied responsibility for the recent deaths of two prominent leaders of the Protestant church. However, groups monitoring religious rights in the country contend the killings are part of a government effort—whether active or passive—to stamp out Christianity in this Muslim-dominated Middle Eastern nation.

The son of 62-year-old Tateos Michaelian was called to identify the body of his father July 2, three days after the elder Michaelian had disappeared. A Presbyterian church official reported Michaelian had been shot three times, at least once in the head.

On July 5, Iranian officials announced that the body of Iranian evangelist Mehdi Dibaj, 60, who had been missing since June 24, was found in a park in the capital city of Tehran. Dibaj had been released in January after spending 10 years in prison for refusing to renounce his Christian beliefs (CT, March 7, 1994, p. 58). His freedom was widely attributed to international pressure; the charges of apostasy against him had not been dismissed.

Within three days of Dibaj's release seven months ago, Assemblies of God superintendent Haik Hovsepian-Mehr, who had led the international campaign on Dibaj's behalf, disappeared. In late January he was found murdered.

Dozens of other Christians have been detained, including permanent U.S. resident Hassan Shahjamali, who was allowed to leave July 20. One source with contacts in the government reports that evangelical leaders in Iran are on a "hit list" to be killed.

Dibaj's brother-in-law, Tony Aryan, says militant Muslims are bent on wiping out Christianity. "When you disappear, basically you're gone forever," says Aryan, who is in hiding in the United States. "The militants desire to kill ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

Support Christian thought journalism. Donate to our nonprofit ministry today.
Read These NextSee Our Latest
Also in this Issue
Subscriber Access Only
Behind South Africa's Miracle
Freedom could not have been won without the faithful efforts of the church.
RecommendedThe Real History of the Crusades
Subscriber Access Only
The Real History of the Crusades
A series of holy wars against Islam led by power-mad popes and fought by religious fanatics? Think again.
TrendingAll 240 Family Christian Stores Are Closing
All 240 Family Christian Stores Are Closing
More than 3,000 employees in 36 states will be laid off in the liquidation of one of the world’s largest Christian retailers.
Editor's PickMy Missionary Great-Grandfather Led Me to Christ
My Missionary Great-Grandfather Led Me to Christ
But only after I went to Japan in search of his life story.
Christianity Today
Prominent Iranian Church Leaders Slain
hide thisAugust 15 August 15

In the Magazine

August 15, 1994

To continue reading, subscribe now for full print and digital access.