Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The cost of following Christ in Iran

Mehdi Forootan spent 105 days
in Iran’s Evin Prison.
(Photo: Compass Direct)
Source: Compass Direct

It was early in the morning the day after Christmas. It was cold. Mehdi Forootan sat in the back seat of an undercover police car in front of his house in Tehran, Iran. He was barely awake. An officer pointed a camcorder at him.

The officer had recorded the entire police raid on his house, where he and three other officers claiming to be from the anti-narcotics squad confiscated Forootan’s books, computers and other important documents.

Forootan, 33, wasn’t afraid; he was not guilty of anything. He had heard of Christian friends being arrested and released, and he thought he could manage being in prison as they had. The officers said they wanted to ask him some questions and that they would return him home in a few hours. Forootan thought he might make it back in time for the Christmas sermon he had prepared for a group of Iranian believers who were going to meet in a home that evening. The camera was still on him.

“Do you know why you were arrested?” the officer behind the camcorder asked him calmly.

“No,” Forootan said dryly.

“I’ll ask you a second time,” said the officer with the camera. “Do you know why we took you?”

“No!” Forootan replied. “Why don’t you tell me why you are taking me?”

The officer turned off the camera and looked Forootan in the eyes.

“I can beat you until blood is coming out of your mouth and every part of you. The next time I turn on the camera, you tell me why we are taking you,” the officer said and turned the camera back on.

“Ok, I guess you arrested me for Christianity and my faith in Jesus Christ,” Forootan said.

The officer turned off the camera and asked: “Do you want to come back to Islam?”

“No,” Forootan said.

“We want to take you to a bad place,” the officer said. “Do you know anything about Evin?”

Forootan’s heart sank at the mention of the ill-famed prison, though he tried not to show it. “Yes, I know.”

On December 26, 2010, authorities had arrested Forootan in a wave of persecution against Iran’s underground church movement. It is estimated that Iranian authorities arrested over 120 Christians in a two-month period. Most of them were released within days, but Forootan was among a small group who were not. Without explanation, authorities freed him on April 9.

Read the rest of Forootan’s account of imprisonment here.

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