Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) recently arrested a Christian mother and her son - both of whom struggle with "health issues" - for their faith and confiscated a number of Bibles and theological books from their home.
According to Mohabat News, intelligence officers raided the home of Anousheh Reza-bakhsh and her son Soheil Zagarzadeh Sani on February 20th and seized several books, including Bibles and theological books. The two were then taken to an unknown location late last month from their home in Iran's northwestern province, and remain missing over three weeks later.
"Currently, there is no further information about their whereabouts and well-being since the day of their arrest," says one source. "It is believed that they have been detained at the intelligence building of the Revolutionary Guards, where access to information and detainees is strictly denied."
Sani, a senior studying psychology, and his mother converted from Islam to Catholicism and were baptized in Istanbul, Turkey in August 2016. After becoming a Christian, Sani reportedly devoted his time to participating in online Christian theological training programs and watching Christian satellite TV channels to deepen his faith.
Eliot Assoudeh, an Iranian-American academic at University of Nevada, told Fox News that both the mother and son struggle with "health issues" and called their disappearance "very sad and concerning."
"It's been more than two weeks that Iranian authorities have not provided any news on them," he said, noting that Christianity is the fastest-growing religion in Iran, and many Christian converts "have to risk their lives attending underground churches."
A Facebook page has been created to draw international attention to the plight of the two believers, also known as "Veronika" and "Augustine," and the persecution of other Christians in Iran.
Open Doors USA has ranked Iran as the eighth worst country for Christians in the world and described the persecution level there as "extreme."
"Converts to Christianity from Islam make up the largest group of Christians and experience the most persecution," Open Doors stated on its website.
Fox News notes that the 125,000-member IRGC has a "long record of violently repressing Christians and democracy movements opposed to the mullah-regime." The IRGC, led by Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, is Iran's most powerful security entity and has control over large stakes in Iran's economy and huge influence in its political system, according to Reuters.
Currently, President Donald Trump's administration is deliberating over a proposal to classify the IRGC as a terrorist organization.