According to the Iranian Christian news organization Mohabat News, Iranian authorities began to systematically seize and destroy Bibles after a Shiite cleric issued an urgent warning about the spread of Christianity.

Mohabat reported that authorities in northwestern Iran have so far seized 6,500 Bibles. A state official said of the seizure: “All religions are strengthening their power to confront Islam; otherwise, what does this huge number of Bibles mean?” Mohabat reported several other recent incidents of Bibles and other Christian literature being seized and sometimes publicly burned.

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Mohabat reports that the government-connected cleric, Ayatollah Hadi Jahangosha, warned of “the spread of Christianity among our youth,” pointing to burgeoning satellite programming, literature, and religious articles promoting the Western tradition.”

“Everyone in society should feel responsibility in this matter and play his or her role in spreading of pure Islam and fight false and distorted cultures,” Ayatollah Jahangosha added.

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