The Iranian authorities are rounding up Christians across the country in a wave of arrests, targeting ordinary church members — including a 78-year-old woman — and leaders.
According to Barnabas Fund, security agents have been conducting sweeps of house churches across the country since Christmas, in Ahwaz, Shiraz, Esfahan, Tehran and Kermanshah. Some officially registered churches have been targeted too.
Christians have also been seized in their homes and workplaces. In one incident, 78-year-old Giti Hakimpour was arrested in a raid on her home in Esfahan at 6.00am on 22 February. According to Barnabas Fund, Giti, who had recently undergone knee replacement surgery, was not in good health.
Entire congregations have been gathered up in some swoops. On 21 February, the authorities raided a house church in Kermanshah and arrested all 13 Christians who had gathered for worship. According to latest reports, three remain in custody.
Dr Patrick Sookhdeo, of Barnabas Fund, said, ‘The authorities are turning the screw on our brothers and sisters in Iran and it appears that none of them, not even elderly church members, are safe from this campaign of intimidation and harassment’.