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.

Read These NextSee Our Latest
RecommendedWorking For Justice Will Make You Uncomfortable
Subscriber Access Only Working For Justice Will Make You Uncomfortable
Eugene Cho wonders whether we're willing to go beyond paying lip service to social change.
TrendingChristian Pundit Dinesh D'Souza Sentenced to 5 Years Probation
Christian Pundit Dinesh D'Souza Sentenced to 5 Years Probation
Former president of The King's College avoids prison time for campaign finance violations.
Editor's PickThe Bible Is More Than a 'Mystery'
The Bible Is More Than a 'Mystery'
Peter Enns makes the case that Scripture doesn't tell us everything. So does it tell us anything?
Comments
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.