In march of last year, paramilitary vigilantes in Tehran forced an Iranian convert to Christianity and his friends into a car. Iranian authorities allow these Islamic fundamentalists, known as Basijis, to enforce religious law. They detained the convert for three weeks and tortured him.

To ensure the safety of his Christian friends, a December 2001 report by Iranian Christians International (ICI) identifies the Iranian only as R. B. When he returned home, he was unable to speak, write, or walk. His wife took him to a doctor to treat his injuries, which included internal bleeding. The couple then went into hiding at a friend's house, planning to leave Iran as soon as R. B. became well enough to travel. They have not been heard from since.

The government elected in May 1997 claims it has improved religious rights, but persecution of Christians has worsened, according to ICI. Religion police from the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance increasingly threaten, imprison, and torture Christians because of their faith. Other authorities deny them jobs and education, ICI says.

The Colorado Springs-based organization reports that since the 1997 election of President Hojjatoleslam Seyed Mohammad Khatami, religion police have shifted tactics. They no longer arrest only key church leaders. Instead, Khatami's so-called moderate government harasses ordinary Christians and entire house churches, arresting groups of 20 to 40 people at a time.

The number of Christians fleeing Iran under its Shi'a Islam regime has grown since 1997. One Iranian pastor who visited Turkey in 2000 reported that 21 families from a single congregation in Tehran had left the country, according to ICI.

Given Iran's climate of fear, it is hard to obtain solid facts, ...

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

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

July/August
Subscribe to CT and get one year free.
From Issue:
Read These Next
Also in this Issue
China Persecution Dossier: Gu Xiangmei Subscriber Access Only
Surviving on tiger's diarrhea.
RecommendedUS Prepares to Deport Hundreds of Iraqi Christians
US Prepares to Deport Hundreds of Iraqi Christians
American veteran faces forced return to dangerous homeland that two-thirds of his fellow believers have fled.
TrendingKay Warren: 'We Were in Marital Hell'
Kay Warren: 'We Were in Marital Hell'
Through God's work in our lives, we've beaten the odds that divorce would be the outcome of our ill-advised union.
Editor's PickFinding My ‘True Self’ As a Same-Sex Attracted Woman
Finding My ‘True Self’ As a Same-Sex Attracted Woman
In my young-adult struggle with sexual identity, both legalistic condemnation and progressive license left me floundering.
Christianity Today
Hiding from Religion Police
hide thisMarch 11 March 11

In the Magazine

March 11, 2002

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