The Pastor of Paul Church in Esfahan was among the first Christians arrested in an organized attack on Christian converts. He was arrested in his home and eventually was released temporarily on bail after judicial authorities agreed to set him free for now.
Pastor Hekmat Salimi, who was among the first Christians arrested in a broad arrest of Christian converts in Esfahan, was released on May 4, 2012 after posting the demanded bail.
He was transferred right after his arrest to ward “Alef-Ta” of Dasgerd prison of Esfahan, where security and conscience prisoners are held. The agents took him there for interrogation. Now, after 73 days he has been temporarily released after submitting a title deed valued at 50,000,000 Tomans (about 40,000 USD).
The judicial authorities had already told his family that he could be released on bail, but each time they refused to accept the bail they had demanded personally. Ultimately, after the authorities agreed and the demanded bail was provided by one of his relatives, judicial officials issued his temporary release verdict. The ruling was handed to the officials of Dastgerd prison of Esfahan and he was freed.
It should be explained that following the release of some Christian converts from Esfahan, some internet media hurried in publishing the news of Pastor Hekmat’s release, but the news was denied by people close to Mr. Salimi’s family.
Some church leaders did not express sympathy with his family during the time of difficulty, they even didn’t take any action to ease his release.
Mr. Hekmat Salimi is an official Persian-speaking pastor of Paul Church which is affiliated with the Anglican Church of Esfahan. The Paul church is located on Sangtarash-ha Street. It is now 30 years since Pastor Salimi converted to Christianity. He was arrested at 7 A.M. on Wednesday, February 22, 2012 in his home in Foolad-Shahr of Isfahan. The security officials transferred him to an unknown location without explaining the reason to his family.
Also, last fall when he was preparing to go to Turkey through the Esfahan airport, the airport security agents seized his passport and told him that he was forbidden to travel to foreign countries.
Even before this, he had been summoned to the Intelligence Office of Esfahan and interrogated regarding his Christian faith.
Reports indicated an increase in, and continuation of the arrest of other Christian converts in Esfahan and its suburbs, after Pastor Salimi was arrested. The pattern of these Christian converts’ arrests as well as their timing shows that these series of arrests had been planned and were conducted after precise identifications.
While Pastor Salimi is temporarily released, some other Christian converts were also temporarily released on bail in two groups on April 30 and May 1, 2012. The Christians released in these two groups include Majid Enayat, Shahram Ghaedi, Enayat Jafari, Fariborz Parsi-Nejad, Keyhan Amiryan, Khodadad Nasiri, Javad …, Meysam Hojati and Madams Shahnaz Zarifi and Maryam Del-Aram.
Among those arrested in the same attack on Christians in Esfahan we should mention the arrest of Ms. Giti Hakimpour, a 78 year old Christian lady. She was subjected to interrogation for three days in prison but then temporarily released on bail as a result of her health problems.
All the above mentioned people are temporarily released and are waiting for their hearings.
The range of methods security authorities use in dealing with Christianity and Christian converts is very broad. The wave of arrests was in connection with the growth of organized pressures and threats by Intelligence services of the Islamic Republic in seeking to terrorize the Iranian Christian community, especially Christian converts and reduce their involvement in Christian activities. (Mohabat News)