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UN experts call on Iran to ‘stop persecution, harassment of religious minorities’

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.

“UN experts call on Iran to ‘stop persecution, harassment of religious minorities,’” Article 18, August 23, 2022:

Eight UN experts have called on the Iranian authorities to “stop persecution and harassment of religious minorities and end the use of religion to curtail the exercise of fundamental rights”.

Nazila Ghanea, Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief. (Photo: Twitter @NazilaGhanea)
The experts*, including the new Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief, Nazila Ghanea, and the Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Iran, Javaid Rehman, said the recent targeting of the Baha’i community “formed part of a broader policy to target any dissenting belief or religious practice, including Christian converts, Gonabadi dervishes and atheists”.

“The international community cannot remain silent while Iranian authorities use overbroad and vague national security and espionage charges to silence religious minorities or people with dissenting opinions,” they said.

The experts called for the “immediate and unconditional release of all individuals detained on the basis of their religious affiliation, and accountability for the systematic persecution of religious minorities by authorities”.

“We are seriously concerned that provisions of the Penal Code are used to prosecute individuals on grounds of religious affiliation and based on allegations that they expressed views deemed to be critical or derogatory towards Islam,” they added.

“Such state-sanctioned intolerance furthers extremism and violence. We call on the Iranian authorities to de-criminalise blasphemy and take meaningful steps to ensure the right to freedom of religion or belief and freedom of opinion and expression without discrimination.”

On the same day as the publication of the joint statement, which coincided with the International Day Commemorating the Victims of Acts of Violence Based on Religion or Belief, the British Ambassador to Iran, Simon Shercliff, tweeted a message in the Persian language promoting religious freedom, including freedom to share one’s faith with others and to change one’s belief.

“Everyone should be free to choose any religion/belief, practise it freely, share their religion … and also freely change their religion/belief,” he wrote….

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