They say that Islamists should fight back with 'thousands of websites and books'
By Dan Wooding
Founder of ASSIST Ministries
IRAN (ANS) -- On a regular basis, Iranian Islamic clerics re-state their hostile attitude towards Christianity and give unfounded information to provoke security authorities to take action against Christians in their country.
Mohammad Hassan Akhtari versus the
"This is all done with one purpose in mind, which is to increase pressure on Christians and Christian converts in Iran," said a spokesperson for Mohabat News (www.mohabatnews.com).
According to Mohabat News, Fars, the semi-official news agency, which is backed by the Revolutionary Guards, recently reported that Hojatol-Eslam Mohammad Hassan Akhtari, the General Secretary of a government-funded organization, known as "Ahl Al-bayt World Assembly," stated in a conference in Qom, which is the largest center for Shi'a scholarship in the world, and a significant destination of pilgrimage, "Christian booklets and brochures are being sent to people's doors for free in many areas." He also claimed, "This is not something new."
Stressing that Islam is under a broad and intense attack, he said, "Christianity is being preached in many shops in the Islamic city of Mashhad. Also Christian booklets are sent to people's addresses without restrictions."
Some time ago, said Mohabat News, Jomhouri-Eslami, the regime-supported daily paper, published a report stating, "House churches have grown in Mashhad over the past few months. Also, some reports indicate that 200 house churches are recognized in the Islamic city."
The Mohabat News spokesperson went on to say, "It is worth mentioning that Mashhad is an Islamic pilgrimage destination and the birthplace of Iran's Supreme Leader, Seyyed Ali Khamenei."
The news report went on by quoting a statement from Hojatol-Eslam Akhtari, who linked together Christianity and Baha'ism [a monotheistic religion founded by Bahá'u'lláh in 19th-century Persia, emphasizing the spiritual unity of all humankind,] in which he said, "Christians and Baha'is are actively promoting their faiths in the country. These activities are particularly evident in Tehran and Alborz provinces."
The Mohabat News spokesperson then said, "This prompts a question: how is it that Islamic Republic authorities put Christianity and Baha'ism in one category, while they believe that Christianity is an Abrahamic religion and Baha'ism is not?
"Even before that, Khabar-Online, the regime supported website which is affiliated with Ali Larijani, the Chairman of the Iranian parliament, had emphasized the need for an integrated program to deal with Christian and Baha'i activities in the country."
He added that Mr. Akhtari also stated that because the evangelists' activities that are broad and widely spread across different parts of the country, it is even difficult for us to keep track of them. Akhtari said, "We should come up with thousands of websites and books to be able to fight back with this wave of evangelism."
The Mohabat News spokesperson commented, "Of course, the Islamic cleric did not provide any supporting evidence for his claim. However, it seems their sole purpose in bringing up and repeating these claims is to provoke security authorities against, and provide the means for increased pressure on Iranian Christians converts.
"It is noteworthy that as always, these reports are published by news services affiliated with the Revolutionary Court. Reports of this kind pave the way for security authorities to crack down freely on religious minorities.
"Such anti-Christian remarks by pro-regime Islamic clerics are made to stimulate security authorities to oppress Christians. This also shows that today one of the great concerns of the Iranian religious system is the growth of Christianity in the country.
"This position against Christians is not a new phenomenon. In the past, some grand Shia Ayatollahs have made insulting remarks against Christianity and Christians themselves. It even reached the point that in a Friday-prayer service, the Imam of the city of Sari said in his sermon that, 'Today Christians are a shame for Christianity.'"
The spokesperson concluded by saying, "On the whole, it is clear that Iranian pro-regime Islamic clerics take advantage of each and every opportunity to warn against house churches in Iran. Their warnings also serve as a stimulating element for security authorities to take action against Christians and gives them an excuse to increase their pressure on them."