International Protest in Finland Against the Closure of the Tehran Assemblies of God Church


Date:  2013-07-23

By Jeremy Reynalds
Senior Correspondent for ASSIST News Service

HELSINKI, FINLAND (ANS) -- Pentecostal Church leaders in Finland are voicing concern about recent events in Iran.

According to a story by the Farsi Christian News Network (FCNN), issues discussed included the arrest of church leaders and eventual closure of the Assemblies of God (AOG) Central Church in Tehran.

That after a number of harsh measures were implemented against AOG churches across Iran.

FCNN said the Interior Ministry, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Prime Minister's Office were presented with a document detailing abuses against Iranian Christians and their faith by the Islamic regime.

Church leaders were hopeful that the Finnish government would relay their concerns to Iranian leaders.

FCNN said after news of the concern surfaced in Christian media, a number of Finnish parliamentarians expressed their sympathy for the AOG churches and their support of the Finnish Pentecostal Churches' declaration.

According to the  story, Sari Essayah, a Finnish European MP, in a recent meeting with Ahmad Shaheed, UN Special Rapporteur on Iran, shared her government's concern about the repeated violations of freedom of religion in Iran, pressures on Christian converts, and closure of the AOG's Central Church in Tehran.

As a result of these issues being brought to the forefront, in a meeting between Iran's Ambassador in Helsinki and the Head of the Department of Africa and the Middle East, the Finnish Government's concern was conveyed to Iranian officials.

FCNN said Iran was urged to reopen the closed churches and respect the provisions of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, of which it is a signatory.

Iranian Christians hope that the recent steps by Finnish Pentecostal churches will be the beginning of a worldwide protest movement by Christian churches against the restrictions imposed by Iran on Christians and their faith.

The government of Finland`s action is appreciated by Iranian Christians.

However, FCNN said, it is interesting to note that last year, with no more than a few hundred Shia'as in the whole of Finland, one of the largest Shia' mosques in Europe costing over $7 million USD, pa id for by Iran's Islamic regime, was opened in one of Helsinki's busiest areas.

The Finnish Republic considers the mosque a multi-cultural symbol of modern Finland

Iranian-Finns have another point of view. FCNN said they "consider it a spy-center outpost of the Islamic Regime against its citizens who have managed to escape its clutches."

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