Persecution of Christians in Iran intensifies as authorities tore down the cross before forcibly shutting down a church in the city of Tabriz.
According to rights group Article Eighteen, intelligence agents trespassed the Evangelical Presbyterian Church of Tabriz, a 100-year-old church and a National Heritage site, on May 9, 2019. Authorities then destroyed the cross from the church’s high tower, changed the locks of the building and ordered the church warden to leave.
The most important thing we can be doing is praying that God will be protecting and sustaining His children in Iran. —Miles Windsor, Middle East Concern
“They made it clear that the Assyrian people are no longer allowed to hold any worship service there,” a source said.
The Assyrian Christian community had been fearful even days before the incident. Church members disclosed that pastors from other churches were prevented from joining worship services with other Christians in Tabriz.
The source said agents from the Ministry of Intelligence and EIKO, an organization under the direct control of the Supreme Leader, stormed the church and installed surveillance cameras. He added that, authorities “started to threaten and force our custodian to leave his place inside the compound immediately.”
Article18’s Advocacy Director, Mansour Borji, said the government has confiscated many Protestant churches in Iran. However, Borji explained that, “the government has been unable to repurpose them, especially if they were listed. So they typically remain as empty buildings, often neglected, and turn into ruins before being demolished, as was the case with the church in Kerman.”
Miles Windsor of Middle East Concern said, “Iran is an egregious violator of human rights and religious freedom,” adding that, “It is one of the worst, if not the worst place in the Middle East to be a Christian.”
Politicians could create policies to protect religious minorities, but Windsor asked Christians to pray for fellow believers in Iran. “The most important thing we can be doing is praying that God will be protecting and sustaining His children in Iran.”