Iran Pastors Mistreated In Prison, Activists Say

By BosNewsLife Middle East Service with reporting by BosNewsLife's Stefan J. Bos
TEHRAN, IRAN (BosNewsLife)-- A pastor of a major house church movement in Iran has begun serving a five years prison sentence, for "crimes against the order", while a colleague has been detained amid drug addicts, a well-informed human rights official told BosNewsLife Wednesday, February 1.

Israel’s Messianic Jews Face Orthodox “Persecution”

By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent BosNewsLife
ARAD, ISRAEL (BosNewsLife)-- Representatives of a Messianic Jewish community in the southern Israeli town of Arad said Monday, March 21, they face "increased persecution" by ultra-Orthodox Jews who accuse the believers of missionary activities and want them to leave Israel.

NEWS ALERT: Iran Pressures Jailed U.S. Pastor To Deny Faith In Christ

By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent BosNewsLife pastornowTEHRAN, IRAN (BosNewsLife)-- An American pastor who is held in one of Iran's most notorious prisons on charges linked to his Christian faith says authorities use physical and psychological torture to pressure him to deny his faith in Jesus Christ."My eyes get blurry, my body does not have the strength to walk, and my steps become very weak and shaky,” Pastor Saeed Abedini wrote in a letter smuggled out of Evin Prison in Tehran.

Iran Releasing House Church Mother On Bail; Others Detained

By BosNewsLife Middle East Service with BosNewsLife's Stefan J. Bos TEHRAN, IRAN (BosNewsLife)-- An Iranian court has ordered the temporary release of a jailed devoted house church Christian and mother of two children, after her teenage son suffered a seizure, local Christians following the case said Monday, October 22.

Several Detained In Iran Crackdown On House Church Movement, Christianity

TEHRAN, IRAN (BosNewsLife)-- Several Iranian Christians remained behind bars Tuesday, February 28, including an elderly frail woman, after security forces launched a "systematic series of arrests in different parts of Iran" to "counter the growth of Christianity and the house church movement"Iranian Christians said.  

Iran Releases Son Of Executed Pastor On Bail

TEHRAN, IRAN (BosNewsLife)-- The son of executed Christian pastor Hossein Soodmand was still awaiting his trial in Iran for "promoting anti-government propaganda" Wednesday, November 12, some three weeks after being released on bail. Ramtin Soodmand, pastor of the Evangelical Church of Iran in the city of Mashhad, was freed October 22 after his family reportedly managed to raise about $22,000 bail money, ending two months of imprisonment. Soodmand was detained by Iranian security forces on August 21, originally on charges of "proselytizing," Christians with close knowledge about the procedures said. The charges were later changed to anti-government activities. His defense team has strongly denied the accusations, but concerns remain that he could still face years of imprisonment and even the death penalty. “The real reason for his arrest is the fact that he is a Muslim convert who is involved in Christian ministry,� said the well-informed Farsi Christian News Network (FCNN). The release of Soodmand came shortly after Shroder Ashur, an Assyrian Christian minister, was released after being charged with the "propagation of Christianity," said FCNN, which has close contacts with prosecuted Christians in Iran. Ashur was freed in the city of Urumieh on October 5, according to FCNN investigators. CONCERNS REMAINYet, Christians said they remain concerned over the plight over these and other Christians. Recently the Iranian parliament voted in favour of a draft bill, entitled "Islamic Penal Code", which would codify the death penalty for any male Iranian who leaves his Islamic faith. Women would get life imprisonment. The majority in favour of the new law was reportedly overwhelming: 196 votes for, with just seven against.Ramtin Soodmand's sister told British media she was "terribly anxious" about him. "Even though my brother is not an apostate, because he has never been a Muslim – my father raised us all as Christians – I don't think he is Rashin Soodmansafe," said 29-year-old Rashin Soodman, who now lives in London. "They assume that if you are Iranian, you must be Muslim," she told The Telegraph newspaper. Her brother's situation has ominous echoes of her father's fate. Rashin was 14 when her father, who was pastor of the Assemblies of God Church of Mashhad, was arrested. "He was held in prison for one month," she said. "Then the religious police released him without explanation and without apology. We were overjoyed. We thought his ordeal was over."CHRISTIAN FAITHBut six months later, the police came back and took Hossein Soodmand away again, she said. This time, they offered her father a choice: he could denounce his Christian faith, and the church in which he was a pastor – or he would be killed. "Of course, my father refused to give up his faith," Rashid recalled. "He could not renounce his God. His belief in Christ was his life – it was his deepest conviction." Two weeks later, he was taken by guards to the prison gallows and hanged.His death has been linked to attempts by Iran's rulers to use the 1979 revolution to turn Iran into an Islamic state, and to abolish the secular laws of the Shah. In the 18 years since Hossein Soodmand's execution, there have been no reports of judicially sanctioned killings of apostates in Iran, although there have been many reports of disappearances and even murders, Christian groups said.Rashin Soodmand eventually managed to leave Iran and, living in London, is now married to a fellow Christian from Iran who successfully applied for asylum in Germany. But she fears for her brother's future. "We just don't know what will happen to him. We only know that if they want to kill him, they will," she said. END (With reporting by BosNewsLife's Stefan J. Bos).

Egypt Christian Dies After Libya Attack

By BosNewsLife Middle East Service christiansegypt CAIRO, EGYPT (BosNewsLife)-- An Egyptian Christian who was shot in the head by a suspected Islamic extremist in Libya has died of his injuries, family members said.

BREAKING NEWS: Kadima, Likud Claim Victory In Israel’s Vote

By George Whitten, BosNewsLife Chief Middle East Correspondent reporting from Jerusalem livniJERUSALEM, ISRAEL (BosNewsLife) -- Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni urged rightist Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu Wednesday, February 11, to join a national unity government after official results gave her Kadima party a narrow lead.

Syria Bishop Fears For Lives Of Kidnapped Christians, Condemns Monastery Destruction

SyrianChristianstargetsDAMASCUS, SYRIA (BosNewsLife)— One of Syria’s most respected church leaders has condemned the destruction of an ancient Catholic monastery by the Islamic State (IS) group and expressed concern that hundreds of kidnapped people, many of them Christians, may have been killed and Chaldean Bishop of Aleppo Antoine Audo spoke hours after news emerged that IS had destroyed the monastery in the Syrian town of Qaryatain dating back to the 5th century after Christ, and is located in central Homs province.

BREAKING NEWS: Iran Detains “Jesus” Actor And Two Other Artists

By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent BosNewsLife TEHRANIRAN, IRAN (BosNewsLife)-- Activists and Christians are concerned over the whereabouts of three detained Christian artists, including an actor who played the role of Jesus in an Iranian language film on the life of Jesus Christ. Shahram Ghaedi, who starred in the Iranian "Jesus" film, and artists Heshmat Shafiei and Emad Haqi were reportedly detained September 27 in the city of Fooladshahr, in Isfahan province.