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Iran: Christians decry denial of education to converts and their children

The Iranian government targets converts to Christianity because it considers them to be apostate and threats to the state. 

The U.S. State Department has classified Iran as a “country of particular concern” for “having engaged in or tolerated particularly severe violations of religious freedom.”

For previous ChristianPersecution.com coverage of Iran, see here.

“Iranian Christians decry denial of education to converts and their children,” Article 18, January 25, 2022:

A group of Iranian Christian former prisoners of conscience between them sentenced to over 50 years in prison have published a joint statement decrying the denial of education to Persian-speaking Christians in Iran.

The statement, written in Persian, was released yesterday to coincide with the International Day of Education.

The signatories included Mary Mohammadi, Amin Afshar-Naderi, Manizheh Bagheri, Mostafa Bordbar, Shapoor Jozi, Payam Kharaman, Sam Khosravi, Parastou Zariftash, Mohsen Aliabady Ravari, Farshid Fathi, Kavian Fallah-Mohammadi, Maryam Fallahi, Reza (Davoud) Nejat Sabet, and Sahab Fazli, mother of current prisoner Nasser Navard Gol-Tapeh.

Mary Mohammadi has previously spoken with Article18 about the denial of her right to education after she was expelled from university, without explanation, on the eve of her English-language exams in December 2019.

She said then that the denial of basic rights, including to education, is used as a “lever to apply pressure to members of religious minorities and human rights activists in the hope they stop their activities and abandon their beliefs”.

Meanwhile, current prisoner of conscience Yousef Nadarkhani went on hunger strike for 21 days in September–October 2019 to protest against the denial of education to his two sons, Youeil and Danial, who were barred from school for refusing to take Islamic classes. (Non-Muslim children are exempt from sitting exams in Islamic Studies, but the children of converts are not recognised as Christians and are therefore not provided with this exemption.)

What does the statement say?
In their statement, the signatories say that as an “unrecognised” minority, Persian-speaking Christians are subjected to “a sea of ​​persecution and oppression”, of which the denial of education is just one aspect.

They note that the right to education is guaranteed under Iran’s constitution, as well as international declarations of which Iran is a signatory, such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

But they say: “Unfortunately, the Islamic Republic of Iran, in violation of its international obligations and constitution, expels us Persian-speaking Christians and our children from school and university… The dreams we nurtured in our hearts and minds, and the plans we had for our jobs and our future, disappear like a cloud overhead.”…

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