A Shi’ite cleric affiliated with the Iranian regime has warned about the “danger” of Christianity spreading in the Islamic republic. This come amid reports of an anti-Christianity propaganda campaign and the seizure of thousands of Bibles.
According to Mohabat News, an independent Iranian Christian news agency, Ayatollah Hadi Jahangosha expressed concern about “the spread of Christianity among our youth,” citing the availability of Christian satellite television programs, books and objects.
“Everyone in society should feel responsibility in this matter and play his or her role in spreading of pure Islam and fight false and distorted cultures,” Mohabat quoted him as saying during a presentation on Mahdism – the belief in the so-called “hidden” or 12th imam, prophesied to emerge at a time of future chaos.
Last week, Mohabat reported that authorities had seized 6,500 pocket-sized Bibles in northwestern Iran. It quoted a parliamentary advisor, Majid Abhari, as telling the Mehr news agency that Christian missionaries were out to deceive Iranians, particularly the youth.
“They have begun a huge campaign by spending huge sums and false propaganda for deviating the public,” Abhari said. “The important point in this issue that should be considered by intelligence, judicial and religious agencies is that all religions are strengthening their power to confront Islam, otherwise what does this huge number of Bibles mean?”
Mohabat recalled previous incidents of Bibles being seized, including one last February, when Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and security officials in a routine inspection of a bus near the Iran-Turkey border found 600 New Testaments, which they destroyed along with confiscated alcohol in a public burning.
A similar incident in the same area last October also saw officials seize and burn Bibles, it said.
In a third incident, in June 2010, Bibles were found in a town near the border with Iraq. Mohabat said the official IRGC Web site at the time accused the U.S. in neighboring Iraq of conspiring to smuggle Bibles into Iran.
The Barnabas Fund, an organization working with Christian minorities in Islamic societies, reports that Iranian authorities have been waging an anti-Christian propaganda campaign through state media in recent weeks.
“Last month, offensive caricatures depicting Christ and Christians were published in the [IRGC mouthpiece] magazine Javan,” it said.
“False and insulting stories about Christians have also appeared in government media. One such article that was published on the website Youth Online alleged that women evangelists were going into stores, using shopping as a pretext to enter into conversation with staff, and then suggesting sexual liaisons and insulting Islam.”
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