American pastor Saeed Abedini has reportedly been “viciously beaten” by fellow prisoners in an unprovoked attack in the Iranian prison where he’s being held. The pastor was punched in the face, leaving his eyes beaten black and blue, but prison guards intervened and prevented further injury.
The American Center for Law and Justice, the law group which represents his wife, Naghmeh Abedini, and the couple’s two children in the U.S., said that the prisoners also demolished a small table that the pastor had used to study and read during the beating that he endured the first week of June.
Abedini was allowed to see a prison doctor, who determined that he does not have any broken bones. The following week, he was able to see a family member who came to visit him and see his injuries firsthand.
“It is heartbreaking to me and my family that Saeed was again beaten in prison. Saeed’s life is continuously threatened not only because he is an American, but also because he is a convert from Islam to Christianity. It’s time to get Saeed home before it is too late,” Naghmeh Abedini said in response to the news.
Back in May, Abedini marked his 35th birthday in prison, where he has spent over two and a half years for his Christian faith. He was arrested in Iran in 2012 while working on an orphanage for children, and later sentenced to eight years in prison.
The pastor has faced a number of beatings while in prison, both from other inmates and guards. The ACLJ and Naghmeh Abedini have expressed concerns that his condition worsens after each beating.
After the beating, Abedini spoke before Congress, pleading for further actions to be taken to help free her husband.
“Over the last three years, I have had to watch my two children, Rebekka (who is 8 years old) and Jacob (who is 7 years old), suffer daily as they have grown up without a father,” Abedini said.
“I am here today as a single mother who is trying to be strong for her children, and as a wife who humbly admits, I need your help. I cannot bear to look at my children’s longing eyes one more time and explain to them why their daddy is still not home.”
She later told The Christian Post that Abedini has been told his prison sentence will be increased unless he denies his Christian faith — something she insists her husband will not do.
“The times they have moved him in and out of solitary [confinement] and the times they have threatened him, they said ‘You will stay here longer than the eight years and your only key to freedom is if you deny your Christian faith and you return to Islam.’ The guards have said that, officials have said that continuously,” Abedini said.
You may remember the 2009 “election” protests by brave students in Iran that resulted in the brutal shooting of Neda Agha-Soltan, a young Iranian student who was a bystander on a Tehran street. The events of the protest inspired Myles to write a song called Bride Behind the Veil to encourage the people of Iran.
Behind the iron veil
A bride awaits her love.
He’s riding a white horse;
He sees her from above.
Behind the iron veil
she watches and she prays.
Mad hatters clench their keys
fearing the sound of a new day.
Can you hear it in her voice?
Can you see it in her eyes?
She’s the bride behind the veil
Awaiting Him Who satisfies.
Behind the iron veil
She’s locked up in her gloom.
They make and break the rules
As she waits to leave her tomb.
Behind the iron veil
The Light begins to shine
on people in the dark,
The Hope for all mankind.
Can you hear it in my voice?
Can you see it in my eyes?
I’m the bride behind the veil,
and my dream is still alive!
The Christian Post
By Anugrah Kumar, March 8, 2015
U.S. Pastor Saeed Abedini, who has now been in an Iranian jail for his Christian faith for nearly two-and-a-half years, is “shaken” as six of his fellow prisoners were executed around him this week, his wife, Naghmeh, says.
“Saeed was quite shaken as he had to witness 6 fellow prisoners being beaten and taken to be executed (hanged) that day,” Naghmeh was quoted as saying in a report by American Center for Law and Justice on Saturday.
“It was a hard and dark day having witnessed that and seeing life being taken. The prison visit was also very hard as the families of those who were executed were crying and wailing,” she added.
Naghmeh learned about this after Pastor Saeed’s family members in Iran were able to have a short visit with him at the prison.
“It was also an emotional visitation as it is getting closer to Jacob’s 7th birthday. Last time Saeed saw Jacob he was 4 years old,” she said, urging Christians to continue to pray for her husband “to have the strength to endure in that harsh prison and that Jesus would continue to meet him there and give him hope.”
“Please pray that this will be the year that Saeed is released,” she said.
Pastor Saeed remains in an incredibly dangerous situation, ACLJ says, explaining that summary executions, inmate violence and beatings are commonplace.
Saeed has also sustained prolonged internal injuries due to beatings in the prison.
“The Obama Administration must do all within its power to bring this wrongfully imprisoned U.S. citizen home to his family in America,” ACLJ says.
Obama raised the issue of the pastor’s detention during his first phone conversation with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani in September 2013, but authorities in Iran have not responded.
Saeed grew up in Iran before converting to Christianity at the age of 20. He later traveled with his family back and forth between Iran and the U.S. to meet other members of his family and for Christian work.
During one such trip in 2009, Saeed was detained by Iranian officials and interrogated for his conversion. While he was released with a warning against engaging in underground church activities, he was once again arrested in 2012 while working on a non-sectarian orphanage project.
Saeed was sentenced for endangering “national security,” but the ACLJ believes the punishment has more to do with Saeed’s Christian faith.
Iran’s Khamenei takes rhetoric to new level with 9-point list for destroying Israel JNS.org
By Sean Savage, November 11, 2014
Iranian Supreme Leader the Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who is known for his anti-Zionist rhetoric, has issued perhaps his most detailed tirade to date in a Twitter post titled “9 key questions about the elimination of Israel.”
“Why should & how can #Israel be eliminated? Ayatollah Khamenei’s answer to 9 key questions. #HandsOffAlAqsa,” read the introduction to Khamenei’s tweet, posted Saturday.
The hashtag #HandsOffAlAqsa referred to the recent tensions between Arabs and Jews at the Temple Mount. Last week, masked Arab rioters threw rocks and shot fireworks at Israeli security personnel at the holy site in Jerusalem, marking the latest outbreak of violence there.
As part of the tweet, Khamenei proposed a referendum that would serve as a means for the elimination of Israel.
“So far as I know, Khamenei’s idea of a referendum has not been proposed by the Islamic Republic of Iran until now. It suggests that the Iranian leadership wishes to make common cause with the leftists also wanting to see Israel disappear,” Dr. Daniel Pipes, founder and president of the Middle East Forum, told JNS.org.
The first answer provided within Khamenei’s nine points accuses “the fake Zionist regime” of trying to achieve its goals via “infanticide, homicide, violence & iron,” with the only solution to these “Israeli crimes” being the “elimination of this regime.”
The “practical & logical mechanism for this,” according to Khamenei, is through a “public and organized referendum” for all the “original people of Palestine including Muslims, Christians, and Jews,” excluding “the Jewish immigrants who have been persuaded into emigration to Palestine,” who “do not have the right to take part.”
In addition to the referendum, the Iranian leader called for Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza to fight against Israel, rejecting any U.N.-moderated negotiation.
On Monday alone, a 26-year-old Israeli woman was killed in a stabbing attack near the Jewish community of Alon Shvut in Judea and Samaria, and an Israeli soldier was stabbed to death at the entrance of the Hagana train station in southern Tel Aviv. Two vehicular terror attacks also recently took place near light rail stations in Jerusalem, causing Israeli civilian deaths and many injuries.
Earlier this year, Iran had announced that it was increasing its effort to arm Palestinians in the West Bank.
“Arming the West Bank has started and weapons will be supplied to the people of this region,” said Iranian paramilitary network chief Mohammad Reza Naqdi, the Times of Israel reported.
The timing of Khamenei’s tweet also comes as the P5+1 nations—the U.S., U.K., France, Russia, China, and Germany—are nearing a negotiated solution with Iran ahead of the Nov. 24 diplomatic deadline. On Monday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu cautioned world powers not to rush into a bad deal with Iran on its nuclear program.
Referencing Khamenei’s plan, Netanyahu said in a statement that he sent a letter to the P5+1 countries that highlights Iran’s desire to destroy Israel.
“[Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei is] publicly calling for the annihilation of Israel as he is negotiating a nuclear deal with the P5+1 countries,” Netanyahu said.
“There is no moderation in Iran,” he added. “It is unrepentant, unreformed, it calls for Israel’s eradication, it promotes international terrorism, and as the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) report just said, it continues to deceive the international community about its nuclear weapons program. This terrorist regime in Iran must not be allowed to become a nuclear threshold power. I call on the P5+1 countries—don’t rush into a deal that would let Iran rush to the bomb.”
Last week, the IAEA said that its investigation into the potential weaponization of Iran’s nuclear program has stalled due to the Islamic Republic’s refusal to cooperate with the probe. President Barack Obama, meanwhile, sent a letter to Khamenei in mid-October expressing the countries’ shared interest in the fight against Islamic State jihadists in Syria and Iraq.
The Washington Free Beacon
By Adam Kredo, October 16, 2014
Ayatollah: ‘Fighting the Zionist regime is a war of destiny’
Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei promised increased support for Palestinian terrorists and urged them to stockpile arms in anticipation of a new war on Israel, according to public comments made Thursday following his meeting with members of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) terror group.
“Fighting the Zionist regime [Israel] is a war of destiny,” Khamenei said after a meeting with PIJ’s secretary general, according to Iran’s semi-official Fars News Agency.
Khamenei instructed Palestinians to “intensify their fight against the Israeli regime” and vowed that Iran would continue to arm Palestinian terrorists in both the Gaza Strip and West Bank, according to Fars.
All Palestinian terrorists groups—with Iran’s support—should rearm and prepare for another war with Israel, Khamenei said.
“The resistance movements in Palestine should boost their preparedness day by day and reinforce their power resources inside Gaza,” Khamenei was quoted as saying Thursday, less than two months after Israel launched an intense several week war against Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip.
Khamenei maintained that the most recent war with Israel, in which thousands of terror rockets were dropped on the Jewish people, marked the start of the “divine promise” of destroying the Jewish state.
The supreme leader also discussed the importance of arming terrorists in the West Bank, which is controlled by the more moderate Fatah Party.
Iran said in late August, days after the last war officially ended, that Tehran had stepped up arm shipments to the West Bank.
“The enemy should feel the same worries in the West Bank as it does in Gaza,” Khamenei said on Thursday, adding that Tehran will continue its support for the Palestinian “resistance.”
“The Islamic Republic and the Iranian people are proud of your victory and resistance, and hope that the back-to-back triumphs of resistance groups will continue until final victory,” he was quoted as saying.
PIJ Secretary General Ramazan Abdullah thanked Khamenei for Iran’s ongoing support for terrorism against Israel.
“Definitely, the victory was achieved with the assistance of the Islamic Republic,” Abdullah was quoted as saying by Fars following his meeting with Khamenei in Tehran. “Without Iran’s strategic and efficient help, resistance and victory in Gaza would have been impossible.”
Iran’s “arming” of the Palestinian factions in the West Bank has been “strategic and effective,” according to Abdullah, who also noted that Tehran’s support has “re-energized the Palestinian fighters and raised their spirit,” according to Fars.
Additionally, Iran on Thursday sent a plane of what it claimed is humanitarian aid and food to the Palestinians. The aid was said to be delivered via Egypt, according to Fars.
“The society has dispatched aid packages, including tents, blankets, food, and medical products worth $890,000 to Gaza,” the Iranian Red Crescent announced on Thursday.
As the Obama administration contemplates extending nuclear talks with Iran through the November deadline, sources on Capitol Hill are warning that there is no way to stem Iran’s support for terrorism.
The potential extension of talks through November, which already marked the second deadline for progress in the negotiations, has experts and lawmakers worried that the Obama administration will concede to Tehran’s demands that it be permitted to enrich uranium.
“With the Obama administration poised to extend nuclear talks with Tehran once again, it’s business as usual for the Iranian regime, which continues to brazenly fund and incite terrorism across the Middle East,” said one senior congressional aide who works on foreign policy issues. “Almost a year of negotiations has only served to boost Iran’s economy, embolden its leaders, and buy Iran more time to continue its quest for nuclear weapons.”
Images of the facility taken Tuesday, a day after the reported explosion which killed at least two people at the secretive Parchin plant, showed that several buildings at the location sustained heavy damage and some even collapsed, Channel 2 reported.
The photos “clearly show damage consistent with an attack against bunkers in a central locality within the military research complex at the Parchin military compound,” Israel Defense wrote.
The images were taken by the French satellite Pleiades the morning following the blast, the source of which remains unknown.
Iran’s state news agency IRNA reported Monday that the explosion occurred at a defense ministry plant east of Tehran for the production of explosives.
The Defense Industries Organisation, quoted by IRNA, said the fire broke out at the plant on Sunday night but it gave no further details.
The BBC, citing a report from the semi-official Iranian Students News Agency (ISNA), reported on Monday that the incident happened in an “explosive materials production unit” at the site south-east of the capital Tehran.
According to ISNA, the blast was so powerful it shattered windows up to 12 kilometers away and the glare from the explosion lit up the night sky.
Several arms facilities and military bases are located east of the Iranian capital, including Parchin. UN nuclear inspectors have been seeking to visit the site to answer concerns about Iran’s atomic program.
The base lies at the center of allegations of past Iranian research into sophisticated explosives that can be used to detonate a nuclear warhead.
Tehran, which has denied inspectors access to Parchin since 2005, insists its nuclear program is for purely civilian uses. Israel and the West fear Iran is seeking to attain nuclear weapons.
By Y. Mansharof, E. Kharrazi, Y. Lahat, and A. Savyon*
In advance of Quds (Jerusalem) Day — which is today, July 25, 2014 — and against the backdrop of the continued fighting in Gaza between Israel and the Palestinian resistance organizations in Gaza — Hamas and Islamic Jihad — Iran’s leaders have, in speeches, called implicitly and explicitly for the annihilation of the State of Israel. Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei also stressed the need to arm the West Bank, while Mohsen Rezaei, former commander of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) and secretary of Iran’s Expediency Council, called on the resistance organizations in Gaza to kidnap Israelis in order to stop Israel from firing on Gaza, and promised all kinds of military aid to the Palestinians. Also, Basij commander Mohammad Reza Naqdi called for finding a way “to end the story of the Zionist regime” with a military defense alliance of the resistance forces against Israel, or with an attack on Israel by the Arab states that have Western weapons.
With the revival of the resistance axis, and Hamas’s renewed and open participation in it, senior officials in the Iranian leadership — Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, Majlis speaker Ali Larijani, and a top IRGC official — held phone conversations with Hamas political bureau head Khaled Mash’al, in which Tehran expressed its willingness to aid Hamas in all necessary ways in the conflict with Israel. Basij deputy commander Ali Fazli even called the Gaza Palestinians “Shi’ites” and stressed that the Palestinian blood connects both the Sunnis and the Shi’ites to the resistance axis.
Iran’s leaders also harshly attacked the West, and particularly the U.S., for supporting Israel. It should be noted that even on the Gaza issue, the struggle between the ideological and the pragmatic camps in Iran is evident; the ideological camp bashed the pragmatic camps’ mouthpieces for not giving top billing to Israel’s “crimes” in Gaza, and its leaders also called on the pragmatic camp to prove its loyalty to Islam by calling publicly for Israel’s annihilation.
But even before the ideological camp voiced its criticism of the pragmatic camp, its leaders, headed by Expediency Council head Hashemi Rafsanjani and President Hassan Rohani, and particularly the Jomhouri-ye Eslami daily, came out strongly against Israel, to prove their loyalty to the ideals of the Islamic Revolution. Rafsanjani even publicly criticized President Obama.
This paper will review the main points of the speeches by top Iranian political and military officials, and will also present a MEMRI TV clip of Khamenei’s call for Israel’s annihilation and a report on Islamic Jihad snipers in Gaza training with Iranian weapons.
Supreme Leader Khamenei: The “Only Solution” For Israel “Is Its Annihilation And Liquidation”; “The Determined And Armed Palestinian Resistance And Its Spread To The West Bank Are The Only Way To Deal With That Bestial Regime”
On July 23, 2014, Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei called for the annihilation of Israel, twice stressing the need for arming the West Bank. Khamenei also claimed that he was not talking about the annihilation of the Jews in the region, but only about the annihilation of the Zionist regime. He also came out harshly against the U.S. and its leaders who support Israel, and against the liberal Western culture, and added that “anyone who cares about the fate of Palestine… should provide arms to the people [of the West Bank] too” (see MEMRI TV Clip No. 4366).
He said: “These crimes [of Israel in Gaza] defy imagination. They are the essence of [Israel’s] wolf-like and child-killer regime, for which the only solution is its annihilation and liquidation. Of course, until that time [when this happens], the determined and armed Palestinian resistance, and its spread to the West Bank, are the only way to deal with that bestial regime.
“At the same time, America’s and the West’s impudent defense of the Zionist crimes must impact… the ‘consciousness, outlook, and approach’ of all of us vis-à-vis the West. We must realize that this is the reality and the truth of America. With its mighty roar on Quds Day, the Iranian nation shows that [it] is the friend of the oppressed and [that] the enemy is the oppressor…
“As the Imam [Ayatollah Ruhollah] Khomeini said, Israel must be liquidated. [But] the annihilation of Israel as the only way to a real solution does not mean the annihilation of the Jews in the region. In order [to carry out] this logical operation [of annihilating Israel] there is a practical apparatus that the Islamic Republic [of Iran] is presenting to the international community.
Based on this apparatus, which is acceptable to the nations [of the world], people living in the region, and belonging to it, will be polled to find out what regime they prefer. In this way, the occupying and forged regime [of Israel] will be annihilated. Of course, until that heartless and child-killer regime is destroyed, the forceful struggle, and determined and armed resistance, are the [only] path to solving [the problem of] this destructive regime…
“Therefore, it is my belief that the West Bank should be armed just like Gaza. Anyone who cares about the fate of Palestine, and who is capable of doing something, should provide arms to the people [of the West Bank] too…”
“The leaders of the arrogant countries do not realize that in their defense of the crimes of the filthy and destructive Zionsts they are losing their honor and the honor of their countries, and that history will judge them for their collaboration in these tragedies… The root of this defense of the crimes of the Zionists [lies] in the democratic and liberal regimes and in the logic of the most minimal moral values, in which there is not even a tinge of humanity…”
Calls In Iran To Arm The West Bank
On July 24, 2014, Majlis National Security and Foreign Policy Committee member Esmail Kowsar called for arming the West Bank: “One of the ways to help Palestine is to arm West Bank residents so they can stand against the Zionist regime.”
Also on July 24, the Basij released a communique calling on the government to urgently submit a bill to the Majlis calling for the arming of the Palestinians in the West Bank in accordance with Khamenei’s statement.
Iranian President Rohani: “Oppression And Occupation Cannot Remain Forever”; “Muslims Will Always March On The Path Of The Jerusalem Ideal Until The Day This Land Is Liberated”
In a July 22, 2014 message, Iranian President Hassan Rohani hinted at the annihilation of Israel: “The [Iranian] people’s participation in Quds Day is the implementation of orders by the Imam [Khomeini] and its meaning is to announce to the world that Al-Aqsa Mosque is the Muslims’ primary qibla [direction of prayer], that Palestine is a sacred land for Muslims, and that this land and the refugees of the Palestinian nation will never be forgotten.
Muslims will always march on the path of the Jerusalem ideal until the day this land is liberated, the Palestinian people return to their land, and Muslims freely pray at Al-Aqsa Mosque. With its presence, the [Iranian] people will show the world that oppression and occupation cannot remain forever, and that a nation struggling to liberate its land will eventually emerge victorious…
“[The Palestinians] defend themselves while fasting [during Ramadan] and besieged against this oppressive and blood-letting regime, and do not surrender to it, but rather stay the course. Ultimately, the oppressed Palestinian people will win this battle [that has so far lasted] 65 years. The Iranian nation has always and will always support oppressed nations, and especially the oppressed Palestinian people in Gaza, and I hope we will soon witness this people’s victory over the aggressors and oppressors.”
Basij Commander: “We Must Find A Way To Open Palestine’s Borders And End The Story Of The Zionist Regime”
In a July 22, 2014 speech, Basij commander Mohammad Reza Naqdi called for finding a way “to end the story of the Zionist regime” and therefore called on the resistance forces in Lebanon, Syria, and Palestine to sign a military defense pact against Israel; on Arab countries to use their armies “to destroy Israel”; and on the Arab oil producing states to withdraw their funds from Western banks in order to apply pressure to stop Israel from attacking the Palestinians. He also expressed sorrow that Iranian forces are unable to fight shoulder to shoulder with the Palestinians against Israel: “No one is committing savage crimes like these; this behavior can only be found among wild animals. The oppressive Zionists are only called humans. They are actually wild animals that do not hesitate to commit any inhuman crime and have no honor or human values…
“With their resistance, the people in Gaza have proven that the oppressive Zionist regime’s power is crumbling… The people in Gaza have proven, with empty hands and wonderful resistance, and in many wars, that the entire force of this [Israeli] army is crumbling. Although equipped with the world’s most advanced weapons, this is the most cowardly military the world has ever seen, since when one of their soldiers is wounded and falls to the ground under fire from Palestinian warriors, this army, with all its supposed strength, abandons him and flees…
“The pure blood of the Palestinian martyrs of the resistance will expose these criminals and their arrogant supporters among the peoples of the world… We must find a solution. A billion and a half billion Muslims cannot sit silently in the face of a few criminal Zionists and postpone the elimination of this cancerous growth from the map of the world. For the sake of the struggle against external threats, and especially the very real dangers of the Zionist regime, popular resistance forces in Palestine, Lebanon, and Syria must sign a defense pact under which any attack on any one of them will be considered an attack on all of them, and they will join forces against the aggressors.
“For which threat or which enemy are the large armies of countries in the region, which paid billions of dollars for the world’s most advanced weapons, saving their strength? Any one of these armies is sufficient to totally erase Israel from the planet. If the Egyptian army does not intend to act against the oppressive Israeli regime to defend Islam and the Palestinian Arab Muslim people, then the proud Muslim youth of Iran, India, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and more, are prepared for the final battle against Israel. The problem here is that they do not have access to the borders of the occupied nation of Palestine.
“If each of the oil-rich Muslim countries in the region, such as Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the UAE, Qatar, and others, would decide to withdraw their funds from Western banks, then immediately upon announcing this decision, the Zionist regime’s attacks on the people of Gaza would cease.
“Today, we very much regret that we are sitting here [in Iran] and are not entering the battlefield to fight shoulder to shoulder with the men and women resisting this criminal enemy in Gaza. Of course, we cannot sit idly by and watch the disasters and crimes against Palestinian Muslims, and make do with expressions of solidarity. We must find a way to open Palestine’s borders and end the story of the Zionist regime.”
Expediency Council Secretary: “10-50 Zionist Hostages In Each [Palestinian] City Are The Best Defensive Battery For That City”
In an July 24, 2014 open letter to the commanders of Hamas’s military arm, the Izz Al-Din Al-Qassam Brigades, Expediency Council Chairman Mohsen Rezaei guaranteed Iranian military aid to Gaza: “The defeat of the Zionists in the current battles will be marked as a turning point in the history of the Palestinian struggle. You must show the murderous criminal Zionists that the resistance is invincible and that Israel is at the end of its road…
“As a representative of the commanders of the Iran-Iraq [1980-88] war, I stress that we will support and defend [you] with all our might and all our means… Your battle rages on, the weapons and gear that you need will reach your hands in every way possible…
“Undoubtedly, the Zionists have no ability to defend themselves against the [resistance’s] guerilla attacks. Ten to 50 Zionist hostages in each [Palestinian] city are the best defensive battery for that city. Clearly in such a situation the occupiers will have no choice but to surrender to you.”
Deputy Basij Commander: “The People Of Gaza Are Undoubtedly Shi’ite”
On July 24, 2014, Deputy Basij commander Ali Fazli said that the Palestinians in Gaza are partners in the resistance axis, and even called them “Shi’ites”: “The people of Gaza are undoubtedly Shi’ite… because the people of Gaza could not have stood against the Zionist regime and sacrificed itself for two weeks with resistance alone. The blood spilled in Gaza and Palestine for the defense of all of Islam connects the Shi’a and the Sunna, and therefore the resistance front should unite and preserve its unity against the arrogance.”
TEHRAN, Iran — Iranian warships dispatched to the Atlantic Ocean will travel close to U.S. maritime borders for the first time, a senior Iranian naval commander said Saturday.
The commander of Iran’s Northern Navy Fleet, Admiral Afshin Rezayee Haddad, said the vessels have already entered the Atlantic Ocean via waters near South Africa, the official IRNA news agency reported.
The fleet, comprising a destroyer and a helicopter-carrying supply ship, began its voyage last month from the southern Iranian port city of Bandar Abbas. The ships, carrying some 30 navy academy cadets for training along with their regular crews, are on a three-month mission.
The voyage comes amid an ongoing push by Iran to demonstrate its ability to project power across the Middle East and beyond.
IRNA quoted Haddad as saying the fleet is approaching U.S. maritime borders for the first time. The Islamic Republic considers the move as a response to U.S. naval deployments near its own coastlines. The U.S. Navy’s 5th fleet is based in Bahrain, just across the Persian Gulf.
As Open Doors International released its annual World Watch List for 2013, the arrest of Iranian Christian converts during the Christmas period increased. In the 2013 World Watch List published by Open Doors, Iran is placed among the first 10 countries where Christians are persecuted the most.
MohabatNews.com / Iranian Christian News Agency
According to Mohabat News, on December 31, 2013, Iranian security authorities arrested four Christian converts by the names of “Sara Rahimi-Nejad, Mostafa Nadri, Majid Sheidaei, and George Isaian” in Karaj.
According to a report by the Human Right Activists in Iran, these Christians had gathered in Isaian’s residence to celebrate the New Year when plain-clothes security authorities raided the home, beat and arrested them. The authorities immediately transferred them to an unknown location.
The report added, the authorities searched Mr. Isaian’s house and all the guests. They seized some of their belongings including books, personal notes, computers, CDs and DVDs, Satellite TV receiver, and even their family photo albums.
The families of these Christian detainees were turned away when they went to Evin prison and to the Intelligence police to inquire about them.
One occasion when pressure on the Iranian Christian community intensifies is during Christmas and New Year. Every year near Christmas, Iranian authorities raid Christmas and New Year house church services/gatherings and arrest those worshiping and celebrating the birth of Jesus.
It should be remembered that in the last few weeks, during Christmas, another group of Christian converts had been arrested. Those arrested were Faegheh Nasrollahi, Mastaneh Rastegari, Amir-Hossein Nematollahi, Ahmad Bazyar, and Mr. Hosseini. They had gathered in a house church in eastern Tehran when they were arrested.
Reports on Christian persecution in Iran also indicated that the Revolutionary Court in Karaj sentenced Hossein Saketi Aramsari to one year in prison. He is currently being held in ward 7 of Karaj Central prison.
A few former Christian prisoners told Mohabat News in an interview, “We were both directly and indirectly pressured to make false confessions regarding our relationship with foreign countries. They wanted us to confess that we receive money to promote Christianity in the country”.
The Islamic regime of Iran is seriously concerned over the spread of Christianity across the country and does its best to counteract it.
The Iranian government uses every means possible to propagate against evangelical and house churches and describes them as a corrupted movement. The Islamic regime considers Christians a threat to national security and often targets them with security charges.
This year as well, Open Doors International published the World Watch List, a list of countries where Christians are persecuted the most. Open Doors also stated that Christian persecution is increasing around the world. The list ranked Iran among the top ten persecuting countries.