Pastor Ebrahim Hossin-Zadeh was arrested in mid-November by plain clothes officers from the Ministry of Information in Shiraz, Iran. Following his arrest, he was interrogated and transferred to the detention centre known as “Block No. 100”, but his current condition and whereabouts are unknown.
Mohabat News reports that Mr Hossin-Zadeh’s home was searched after his arrest; his mobile phone and computer, as well as various books and other personal possessions were seized in the raid. The church leader’s family has had no contact with him since November 20. One report claims this is a tactic used by the security forces to intimidate family members to deter them from contacting foreign news media.
Pastor Ebrahim became a Christian from a Muslim background in 2009. He is 32 years old and runs his own business. His arrest is the latest in a history of harassment and raids for house churches in Shiraz, particularly prevalent in the past four years.
Also in Shiraz, the convictions of six other Iranians who had recently converted to Christianity were upheld in a court of appeal on 12 October. Four of those convicted were sentenced to 15 years and two months in prison for participating in house churches, interfering with national security, proselytising Iranians with Christianity, and contacting foreign organisations. One of the six, Homayoun Shokouhi, was later granted conditional release on 10 November.
Government pressure on house churches of converts is also mirrored in the situation for historic Christian communities meeting in church buildings. A report relates that these have been ordered to refuse admittance to any Farsi-speaking people. (Farsi is the national language of Iran and spoken by the Muslim majority.) The Iranian government has closed many churches and Christian institutions, and severely punished many converts from Islam in an attempt to limit the spread of Christianity.