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Security authorities arrested three Christians, two of whom are Farsi-speaking, in an arbitrary move without mentioning any charges for their arrest. The unreasonable arrest of these Christian men and an increase in condemnation of Christians by the Iranian judicial authorities all point to a deteriorating situation for the Iranian Christian community.

According to Mohabat News sources, on August 21, 2013, security authorities arrested three Iranian Christians in Karaj, two of whom are Farsi-speaking and the other an Iranian-Armenian.

tehranAccording to the report, on August 21, at 3 p.m., Ebrahim Firouzi and Sevada Aghasar went to visit Masoud Mirzaei in his office in an insurance company in Karaj, when plain-clothes security authorities raided the office and arrested all three Christians present.The arrested Christians are, Masoud Mirzaei, resident of Karaj, Sevada Aghasar, Armenian resident of Tehran, and Ebrahim Firouzi who was arrested again after being sentenced in the Revolutionary Court.

The authorities then transferred them to an unknown location. Their location is still unknown at the time of writing this article and no indication has been given with regards to their charges for this arrest.

It is reported that only Masoud Mirzaei and Sevada Aghasar were granted permission to make a short phone call to their families informing them that they are in good health.

After arresting the tree Christian men, security authorities also raided Masoud Mirzaei's house, thoroughly searched it and removed some of his personal belongings, including his computer.

Individuals close to the arrested Christians told Mohabat News, that Ebrahim had said that he was supposed to report to the judicial authorities on Saturday to serve his one year sentence in prison. The Revolutionary Court had earlier sentenced him to one year in prison and two year of exile. Thus, the purpose of Ebrahim and Sevada's visit to Masoud's office in Karaj was solely to visit friends and say goodbye to them.

Ebrahim Firouzi has not yet been allowed to contact his family after his re-arrest. This has caused concerns among his family and friends, considering that he had already been convicted.

Ebrahim Firouzi has been arrested several times during recent years for his evangelical activities and after his most recent arrest he had been sentenced to one year in prison and two year of exile for "propagating against the Islamic regime, starting and directing an evangelism group, contact with opponents of the Islamic Revolution and anti-Islamic regime networks in foreign countries, and lunching a Christian website. He was supposed to be exiled to a remote town near the Iran-Pakistan border after serving one year in prison.

The other arrested Christian, Sevada Aghasar, is an Iranian Armenian citizen and a member of Armenian Apostolic Church. Sevada Aghasari's house had also been searched by the authorities and some of his belongings were seized shortly after Mostafa Bordbar was arrested. Bordbar had been arrested in connection with a Christmas 2012 gathering in a house in Northern Tehran, where a group of Christians had gathered to celebrate the occasion. He was later sentenced to ten years in prison. In the same Christmas raid, 50 other Christians were arrested including Pastor Vruir Avanesian who remained under custody for two weeks before his conditional release.

No doubt, the arbitrary and unreasonable arrest of the three young Christians in Karaj and the increasing imprisonment of Christian converts during the past few weeks are all signs of a worsening situation for the Iranian Christian community.

What is certain is that the crackdown on Iranian churches, especially Farsi-Speaking Christian communities, is most obviously a systematic violation of the Human Rights of Christians in Iran. Earlier, the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom mentioned Iran in its annual report among "the worst violators of religious freedom" and warned that the situation is worsening in the country.

Pressure on the Farsi-speaking Christian community has been increasing in recent years after the Iranian Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, warned against the growth of house-churches in the country.

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