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Stephen Sizer: Persona Non Grata in Iran

This is a guest post by efrafandays

Like Seismic Analysis, I share the pain at reports of the Rev. Dr. Stephen Sizer’s being refused a visa to attend a conference on Palestine in Iran. Call me old Mr. Unadventurous, but I would be reluctant to attend *any* conference hosted by the Khomenist regieme never mind those which are even remotely connected toIsrael but, although I can choose my friends on a more sound criterion than being refused a visa to Iran, this potentially allays some of the criticisms of Sizer which I discussed in the latter part of this missive.

When visiting Iran last winter for… erm… another “conference”, Bibles and Christian literature had been found in Sizer’s luggage. Instead of – as I would hope any self-proclaimed Christian evangelical and proponent of replacement theology would do – admitting he was concerned for the pastoral care of his Iranian brethren and sistren, as I stated:

He was at pains to assure Iranian authorities that his “primary objective is not to plant a church” but to discuss the inquities of “Christian Zionism”.

Maybe this didn’t wash with the Khomenist authorities, especially as in the link to Sizer’s page I give above, he states:

On March 5th 2009, two Iranian Christian women, Miss Marzieh Amirizadeh Esmaeilabad (30), and Miss Maryam Rustampoor (27), were arrested by the Iranian security forces. Their only crime is that they are committed Christians who follow the teachings of Jesus. They are being unfairly labelled as ‘anti-government activists’, because of the hostility of the government towards practising Christians.

(Of course, the risk to these two unfortunate women is real and high, and I do not wish to impute any negative comment towards them.)

I would hope that Sizer does not now push ‘Islamophobia’, in which he considers having a go at Israel to be more important than caring for fellow Christians and proselyting his faith to non-Christians individuals in Muslim majority countries; just as I would hope he does not hint at anti-Arab racism in which he uses the epithet “Children of Hagar” [1] as a pejorative. However, I am left with a lingering sense of an obsequiousness towards the Khomenists in his missive.

But from little acorns and all that… G-d speed, Stephen!

[1] I stress I do not believe that Arab ethnicity and ownership of of modern Israel and adjacent territories and/or states can be justified through ancient Biblical verses. Then again, unlike some people, I am not attempting to disinherit an entire national group through my own exegesis of a verse in Galatians. I also don’t think the I-word or the Z-word is a bad word.

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