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The Silent War: Persecution of Christians in Iran

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 coverage of Iran, see here.

“The Silent War: Persecution of Christians in Iran,” by Shabnam Assadollahi, Times of Israel, April 9, 2024:

In Iran, a shadow war ensnares those who choose to embrace Christianity, where apostasy is not merely a personal decision but a crime punishable by death. The Islamic Republic’s iron grip extends to every facet of life, enforcing draconian laws that mandate allegiance to Islam under the threat of persecution and death.

From the Islamic regime’s inception in 1979, politics and religion intertwine seamlessly, creating a toxic environment where dissent is swiftly crushed underfoot. The echoes of history reverberate through the ages, from the Battle of al-Qadisiyyah in 636 CE between the Rashidun Caliphate and the Sasanian Empire to the second Qadisiyyah in 1979 after Khomeini gained power. The regime’s suppression of dissent and imposition of religious orthodoxy mirror the autocratic rule of empires past.

Ayatollah Khorasani’s ominous decree echoes centuries of religious dogma, condemning any deviation from Islam as a threat to the state. He remarked, “The promotion of Christianity in Iran must be stopped,” reflecting the regime’s determination to eradicate religious pluralism and maintain strict control over religious discourse. The Quranic verses cited in the Penal Code serve as a grim reminder of the regime’s determination to root out apostasy at any cost.

Yet, amidst this darkness, a glimmer of hope emerges—the resilience of the Iranian people. A new generation, disillusioned with the regime’s oppressive ideology, dares to challenge the status quo. Through social media and underground networks, they defy the regime’s control, embracing alternative beliefs and advocating for change.

However, this struggle is not without its risks. The regime’s brutal crackdown on dissent extends to religious minorities, particularly Christians, who face persecution, harassment, and violence for their beliefs. Reports abound of Christians being arrested, imprisoned, and executed for their faith. In some cases, they are charged with vague offenses such as “acting against national security” or “spreading corruption on Earth,” which carry severe penalties, including death.

Harassment against Iranian Christians is on the rise, with a notable increase in arrests and detentions within the Islamic Republic. In addition to the regime’s brutal suppression of protests, Iranian Christians endure escalating persecution, marked by harassment, arrests, and imprisonment solely for their religious practices.

The regime’s tactics of intimidation extend beyond arrests and detentions to include surveillance, censorship, and infiltration of Christian communities. Informants are enlisted to monitor religious gatherings, report on suspected converts, and suppress any perceived threat to the regime’s authority.

Executions are carried out publicly, serving as a chilling reminder of the consequences of defying the regime’s authority. Christian converts are often subjected to torture, imprisonment, and forced confessions before facing execution. Their families are left devastated, often unable to mourn publicly for fear of reprisals from the regime.

The persecution of Christians in Iran is deeply rooted in the country’s complex political and religious landscape. Iran’s Islamic regime, founded on the principles of Shia Islam, views any challenge to its authority as a threat to its legitimacy and power. As a result, religious minorities, including Christians, are subjected to relentless persecution in a bid to maintain the regime’s grip on power….

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