HANOVER, Germany Forty Iranian converts to Christianity were recently baptized together in an unprecedented ceremony in Hanover, according to the Farsi Christian News Network.
Citing a report from the Germany news agency DW, the Farsi network said the Iranians fled to Europe to escape the persecution in their homeland.
"These baptismal ceremonies were conducted in both Farsi and German," said the story.
Although conversions to Christianity are not rare, the network said "this incident in Hanover is the first of its kind where a large group have together converted and been baptized as Christians."
Hans Jorgen Kutzner, a Protestant pastor who is personally responsible for prayers and shepherding of more than 1,000 Iranians all over Germany, said he has personally baptized dozens of people in the past.
"These people come from a country that appears to be very religious and there is no separation between religion and politics," Kutzner said.
"Many of these people suffered the brutal and oppressive hand of Islam in their country. Anyone who has experienced such dictatorial oppression seeks to be freed from it at the first available opportunity."
The Hanover pastor said that the number of conversions and requests for water baptism by Iranians has been on "a significant increase since the presidential elections and the widespread protests that followed it in 2009."
Many of those converting are men between the ages of 25 to 45, but women are also coming forward, including Parisa, a 30-year-old woman who, up until recently, was wearing her head scarf and was a teacher in the Iranian city of Isfahan. She said that she got into trouble when she refused to wear a religious cloak in order to teach at her school and therefore was transferred to small village near Isfahan.
Shortly after, she escaped to Germany.
"I was never a practicing Muslim," she said, adding that she constantly "suffered from discrimination" that was so obvious against women in Iran."She has a great appreciation for the principle of religious freedom which is enshrined in the German constitution. She says that she feels like being born anew," the Farsi network report said.
Assist News Service
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