Christians inside Iran report severe government repression

Christians in Iran said the disputed presidential election results are evidence that the government isn’t interested in listening to dissent or considering religious freedoms, according to Open Doors. Open Doors is a Christian organization which provided Bibles and Christian training to members of the persecuted church around the world. One man in the southwestern Iranian city of Shiraz said calm in the streets where he’s at isn’t indicative of the tension in the country. The man, a Christian using the alias Daryush, said a strong police presence is visible, as is word-of-mouth news of violence purported by government forces against protesters. “In my neighborhood there is no evidence of any skirmishes or demonstrations and also no celebration from the elections anymore,” Daryush told Open Doors. “The streets have been swept clean. But the evidence that we have trouble in Shiraz is the constant presence of the various security forces and the military helicopter I saw flying overhead. But I have only driven around my own neighborhood, so I can’t speak for the entire city.” Worldwide attention has been focused on massive street demonstrations in Tehran claiming opposition candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi had votes stolen and the election rigged against him by incumbent President Mahmoud Ahamdinejad and the ruling Islamic clerical elite. “Friends told me that young people in Shiraz are being arrested and that they’ve seen young men and women being beaten or worse,” Daryush said. “A friend who lives near the university and student dorms told me she heard screaming, shouting and gunfire in the early hours of the morning. “The predominately young demonstrators are calling Ahmadinejad a dictator and yell chants like ‘Ma dolate zoor nemikhaim’ meaning, ‘We don’t want a government of force.’ They also yell at the security forces and call them traitors and vote-stealers. A friend said that within the security forces are pro- Mousavi followers, saying ‘beechareh shodim!’ or ‘We are without hope.’” The results have also created somewhat of an “I told you so” type of reaction among voters who suspected Ahmadinejad and his hard-line stance against the United States and Israel would never be allowed to leave power. “This election, however, showed us that the Iranian people don’t have a ‘limited democracy,’ but as some are now saying ‘no democracy at all…we have an Islamic dictatorship,’” Daryush said. Open Doors spokesman John Fox said Christians in general voted for Mousavi and hope for new elections: “We cannot generalize our observations to all Christians, but we asked 29 Christians from Tehran, Shiraz and Isfahan and all voted for Mousavi. One of them said, ‘for us bad is better than worse. Mousavi also promised more religious freedom, so I hope he does not lie.’” Open Doors USA President/CEO Carl Moeller added: “We need to continue to pray for the situation in Iran, especially for the Christians caught in the crossfire. This could be a pivotal point in the history of Iran and the future of believers who live there.” Link: Open Doors: http://www.opendoorsusa.org/

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