Iranian authorities have arrested dozens of Christians in the two weeks since Christmas, the latest challenge to the Mideast’s small but vibrant Christian communities.
The arrests around the country appear focused on individuals who have converted from Islam or sought to convert others from Islam—actions considered sins under Islamic law and punishable by death in Iran.
Tehran’s governor, Morteza Tamadon, confirmed there have been detentions and said more arrests were on the way, state media reported.
Mr. Tamadon suggested the roundup hadn’t targeted the mainstream Armenian Christians or Catholics, which make up most of the small Christian population in Iran. Instead, he suggested the arrests targeted Protestant evangelicals, who have run into trouble elsewhere in the Mideast.
Mr. Tamadon said missionary evangelicals had stepped up their activity in Iran, calling it a “cultural invasion of the enemy.”
“Just like the Taliban, who have inserted themselves into Islam like a parasite, [evangelicals] have crafted a movement in the name of Christianity,” he said, according to state media outlet IRNA. He didn’t give further details about the arrests.