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Iran Widens Crackdown on Religious Minorities

Paul Marshall

Further to Lela Gilbert’s March 11 NRO report that, following the arrests of hundreds of Christians in recent months, five Iranian Christians had been sentenced to one year’s imprisonment for “Crimes against the Islamic Order,” the Iranian government is widening its crackdown on religious minorities.

Christian Solidarity Worldwide reports that Hohabet News, one of the best news sites for information on Iranian Christians, was yesterday suspended by the government. Earlier, at least one staff member and his family had been threatened by an e-mail from the Revolutionary Guard. The suspension came after the site reported that last month the government had seized and burned 600 New Testaments discovered on a bus during a border inspection in Salmas.

The Baha’i News Agency reports that in March the authorities have arrested at least nine more Baha’is. (See also here.)

The most recent arrests were of Baha’is providing kindergarten-level education to children in Iran’s Kerman Province, an area devastated by an earthquake seven years ago, and where the education system had almost been destroyed. The prosecutor general of the revolutionary court in Bam asserted that they were arrested for “promoting their programs under the guise of kindergartens” in Bam, Kerman, and Tehran, and “took advantage” of the needs following the earthquake. The Baha’i News Agency also reports that currently 79 Baha’is are imprisoned in Iran, including most of the leadership.

Sufi Muslims are also suffering. Human Rights Without Frontiers reports that Dr. Seyed Mustafa Azmayesh, a representative of the Neymatollahi Gonabadi Order, told the European Parliament’s Delegation for Relations with Iran that security forces had broken into the houses of Sufi Masters and jailed them. Sufis are also attacked in state media, where they have been called “house vermin” and “satanists.”

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