Pressures are escalating against Farsi-speaking Iranian Christians. This time security authorities have raided the home of a Christian pastor in Esfahan without providing any explanation and have transferred him to an unknown location.
According to reports of Iranian Christian news agency, Mohabat News, Mr. Hekmat Salimi, pastor of the official Church of St. Paul in Esfahan has been arrested.
Based on the report, at 7:00 AM on February 22, 2012, security authorities raided Pastor Salimi's home in Fooladshahr, a town near Esfahan. The authorities did not provide any explanation and transferred him to an unknown location.Also, the authorities thoroughly searched the house and seized Pastor Salimi's belongings, including Bibles, Theological books, CDs and computer. They even confiscated picture frames off the walls.
The lack of information regarding Mr. Salimi's situation has caused anxiety among his family, friends and church members.
No information is available as yet concerning the way he was arrested. However, it appears that this arrest happened as part of the increased pressure on the Iranian Christian community, especially Christian converts. The growing pressures have resulted in similar incidents and arrests in other cities including, Ahwaz, Shiraz, Tehran, etc.
It seems that one of the reasons why security authorities raided Pastor Salimi's home early in the morning was because they wanted to arrest him before he left his home.
Pastor Hekmat Salimi was also banned from going abroad when he tried to travel to Turkey through the Esfahan airport last autumn. Security officers at the Esfahan airport seized his passport, prevented him from boarding the plane and informed him that he was officially banned from leaving the country. After that incident he was summoned to the intelligence office of Esfahan several times and subjected to interrogations by intelligence officers.
Prior to this incident, he had been arrested on charges of following the Christian faith but was later freed on bail.
Pastor Salimi is a Farsi-speaking pastor of the official Anglican Church of Esfahan in Sangtarashan neighborhood. It is now 30 years since he became a Christian. He is also the author of some books on Christian teaching, theology, as well as Christian poetry.