On May 9, security forces removed the cross from the roof of an evangelical Assyrian church in Tabriz, the capital of East Azerbaijan province, closed down the church and evicted the custodian. Now an IranWire citizen journalist using the pseudonym Marjan to protect her identity reports that the security forces have given an excuse for their behavior: the worshippers had been drinking alcohol during religious ceremonies. But in Iran, Christians are not banned from doing this as part of their religious practice.
“When I heard that they had removed the cross from this church I could not believe it until I went there myself and saw that it was true,” Marjan writes. “I talked to a number of neighborhood people and businesses. The shopkeepers said that the excuse they were given for sealing the doors of the church was the drinking of alcohol during religious ceremonies. They said that even before the raid nobody was allowed into the church and now, of course, even the custodians cannot get in.”
“Neighborhood people say that both before and after the raid, unknown people, or perhaps the same plainclothes agents, wrote insults to Christianity on the walls of the church,” reports Marjan. “Today I saw that they had painted over them.”
Marjan's video of what she saw at the Assyrian church in Tabriz