Since November 2018, Iran’s steadily growing Christian community (one of the world’s oldest Christian communities) is seeing a marked increase in arrests. According to Voice of the Martyrs Korea representative Hyun Sook Foley, about 70 Christians were arrested near Karaj, Alborz province and 30 more arrests were made in Damavand and other parts of Tehran. In December, further detentions were reported in the north, northeast, and southwest of Iran.
Amir Taleipour and Mahnaz Harati
On December 2, two sisters, Shima and Shokoofeh Zanganeh, were arrested in their homes in Ahvaz. Partners report that these sisters were beaten by security officials who interrogated them then transferred them to Sepidar prison.
“Their family has tried multiple times to pay the sisters’ bail, but each time they are turned away,”
says representative Foley.
On December 6, a northeast Iranian Christian couple (Amir Taleipour and Mahnaz Harati) were arrested in front of their seven-year-old daughter.
“At last report, the couple were still being held in detention and not allowed to communicate with family members,” representative Foley says. “They have also been denied legal assistance. In the meantime, their daughter is being cared for by extended family.” According to representative Foley, however, the Iranian church is continuing to grow. “If you speak with any Iranian Christian, you will see that, to them, martyrdom and persecution are very real,”
representative Foley says.
“Many have experienced the martyrdom of a family member, friend, or church member, but they describe this experience as a spiritual awakening.”
Representative Foley tells the story of an Iranian Christian pastor by the name of Ghorbandordi Tourani. On November 15, 2006, Pastor Tourani was invited to a meeting held by Turkmen religious leaders where he was asked why he had become a Christian if his own parents were Muslim. The pastor said,
“I am not going to deny Jesus and return to Islam.”
One week after the meeting, on November 22, Pastor Tourani was called by someone who claimed to have heard him speak at the meeting and wanted to become a Christian. This individual asked Pastor Tourani to meet them in the park that same day, as they were afraid to visit him publically.
Pastor Tourani traveled to the park, but the caller did not show up at the appointed time. Eventually, Pastor Tourani decided to return home, stopping by the toy shop to buy a gift for his four-year-old daughter. On the way home, however, a group of Islamic extremists stabbed him to death with a knife.
“Some of the pastor’s frightened neighbors told his wife what had happened and she saw her husband lying on the ground bleeding to death,”
representative Foley explains.
“But rather than being fearful, Pastor Tourani’s wife cried out, ‘O people, remember that Ghorban is a Christian martyr who laid down his life for the sake of Christ.” “Despite the obvious pain and trauma, Pastor Tourani’s wife looks back on his death with boldness,”
representative Foley explains.
“She boldly proclaims her Christian faith to all she meets—and she isn’t the only one. Many Iranian Christians share a similar story.”
“Instead of pitying martyrs like Pastor Tourani or becoming anxious about the rising pattern of persecution worldwide, we should give credence to these martyrs’ witness by supporting their families,” representative Foley says. “Non-Christians carefully watch the families of martyrs to see the character of God. If these families continue to struggle and suffer, what does that say about the martyr’s God?”
Anyone wishing to support the families of Christian martyrs around the world can give by visitingServing Families of Martyrs and Prisoners or by or wire transfer to
후원계좌: 국민은행 463501-01-243303, 예금주: (사)순교자의 소리
Voice of the Martyrs Korea is a non-profit organization created to support persecuted Christians around the world whose Financial Accountability has been approved by the Christianity Council for Financial Transparency Korea (CCFK).