By BosNewsLife News Center
TEHRAN, IRAN (BosNewsLife) — One of eight Iranian house church leaders arrested last month for "evangelization" and threatening security remained detained Thursday, January 4, on new charges that he must pay "an outstanding debt," Iranian Christians reportedly said.
Behrouz Sadegh-Khandjani has been in police custody for nearly a month after he and and the other church leaders were arrested during police raids in several homes last month.
His detention continued shortly after Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad wished Iran â€™s minority Christians "joy, health and a year full of blessings and love," on Christmas Eve.
Members of the group raised nearly $40,000 in bail for the release of two other leaders held in Tehran last week but paid smaller amounts to free members in the cities of Karaj , Rasht and Bandar-i Anzali, the Christian Compass Direct News agency quoted a source as saying on condition of anonymity.
Tehran leader Hamid Reza Toluinia was reportedly freed on Christmas Day after his father presented officials with the title deed to a house. Behrouz Sadegh-Khandjaniâ€™s sister, Shirin was freed two days later, but it was unclear how the $40,000 bail was paid.
Tehran officials reportedly continue to hold Sadegh-Khandjani, saying he has not paid off debts incurred in an uninsured rental car crash two years ago. Secret police have allegedly ncouraged the owner of the rental company to pursue demands for reimbursement, but officials have not confirmed these claims.
Iranian police began arresting the house church leaders from their homes in the early morning hours of December 10, on charges of "evangelization" and actions against the national security of Iran.
Evangelizing is forbidden under Iran's strict interpretation of Islam, and Christians are known to have been imprisoned, tortured and in some cases executed because of their faith, human rights groups and church leaders have said.
One house church official reportedly denied they were arrested for opposing a said in a controversial Iranian conference that questioned the existence of the Holocaust. He reportedly said that many Iranian intellectuals reject the revisionism, "but they were not arrested."
Last month, Christians in and outside Iran, including persecuted believers, prayed for Muslims in hope they will get to know Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior, organizers said. 'Pray for Iran', an initiative involving Iranian churches, told BosNewsLife that December 29 was an important date for the prayers as it was 'Arafat day', when Muslim pilgrims move toward the plain of Arafat, after having been to Mecca, Saudi Arabia. (With reports from Iran)
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