A Bahai woman was detained by intelligence agents on April 19 in Babol northern Iran. According to the Human Rights News Agency, she was identified as 52-year-old Manijeh Azimian. Manijeh was released on bail the next day. Her home was raided and some of her personal belongings, including her mobile phone, hard disk, flash disks, and holy books were confiscated.
The intelligence agents asked her to come to the intelligence agency in Babol, where she was detained and interrogated.
“After confiscating her mobile phone, the agents called some of her contacts, and summoned at least three of her non-Bahai friends and neighbors,” an informed source said.
This is the third case of detaining Iranian Bahais this month. On April 6, seven Iranian Bahais were detained in the south-central city of Shiraz.
On April 3, seven Iranian Bahai women in the northeastern city of Mashhad were summoned to serve their prison terms for following the banned faith.
Bahai persecution in Iran
Unofficial sources say that there are more than 300,000 people following the Bahai Faith in Iran. However, the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran only recognizes Islam, Christianity, Judaism, and Zoroastrianism and does not recognize Bahaism.
Since the 1979 Islamic Revolution in Iran, Iranian Bahais have been systematically persecuted as a matter of government policy. During the first decade of this persecution, more than 200 of Iran’s Bahais were killed or executed. Hundreds more were tortured or imprisoned, and tens of thousands lost jobs, access to education, and other rights – all solely because of their religious belief.
The persecution of Iran’s Bahais is still ongoing with dozens of Bahais languishing in prisons throughout Iran.
Christian converts arrested in Iran
Three Christian converts were detained by intelligence agents in Dezful southwestern Iran on April 19. According to the Mohabat News website, the three Christians were identified as Esmael Narimanpour, Mohammad Ali Torabi, and Alireza Varak Shah. Their homes were searched and some of their personal belongings including Mohammad Ali’s mobile phone were confiscated.
“The intelligence agents went to Mohammad Ali’s store this morning and took him to his house. They searched his home and took his mobile phone, telling him he had to turn himself in to the intelligence agency,” an informed source said.
Mohammad Ali was detained when he went to the intelligence agency.
It is unclear where Esmael and Alireza have been taken or are being kept. Mohammad Ali has been detained before this.
According to Iranian law, evangelism, missionary work, and converting to Christianity can be a crime meriting a sentence of more than 10 years imprisonment. The distribution of Christian literature in Persian is currently illegal in Iran.
There is officially no crime known as apostasy in the penal code (although there was a law about it prior to 1994). The last known execution for this crime was in 1990. However, despite there being no official civil law of apostasy, judges may still convict a defendant of that crime if they rule based on religious fatwas.