Christians in Iran continue to live in constant fear of targeted persecution, including brutal arrest and imprisonment, for their faith.
The ACLJ just took action, urging swift international intervention to protect Iran’s Christians and other religious minorities.
Iran’s own constitution states that: “the government of the Islamic Republic of Iran and all Muslims are duty-bound to treat non-Muslims in conformity with ethical norms and the principles of Islamic justice and equity, and to respect their human rights.”
Yet despite what its own sacred document says, the actions of the Iranian government reflect a very different philosophy in its treatment of Christians and other religious minorities. Christians are being oppressed into silence, as preaching Christian doctrine or leading others to salvation through Jesus Christ could lead to being arrested and charged as an enemy of the state. Christian converts have been sentenced to years of wrongful imprisonment. This injustice has to stop now.
We just delivered a critical oral intervention at the U.N. Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in Geneva, Switzerland, through our European affiliate office, the European Centre for Law and Justice (ECLJ), asking for protection for Iranian Christians, and pressure on Iran to honor not only its U.N. charter, but its own constitution.
As we stated:
Iran is home to an estimated population of over 83 million, 99% of whom practice some form of Islam. In contrast, 0.2% of the population practice Christianity or another minority religion. The greatest threat to religious freedom in Iran is the extreme persecution that religious minorities face at the hands of the Iranian government.
This year, a human rights watch group ranked Iran as the 9th worst place to live for Christians, because, as we highlighted in our UPR report on Iran, churches in Iran are routinely raided and Christians are targeted for arrest simply because they are living out their faith in community with others.
For example, Christian Pastor Youecf Nadarkhani has been repeatedly targeted for arrest and abuse by the Iranian government. He was most recently arrested in July 2018.
Reports indicated that police shattered Pastor Youcef’s door, raided his home, and used electrical batons to beat him and one of his sons, all in front of his wife and other children. And in December 2018, an Iranian news agency reported “that a total of 142 men and women belonging to different Christian groups were arrested in 10 or 11 different cities across the country.” This targeting of Christians cannot continue.
As a member of the United Nations Iran has a responsibility to adhere to the principles set forth in the U.N. Charter. It is imperative that Iran work to actively protect the rights of its citizens, and reform its laws so that all its citizens are free to practice their religion peacefully without fear of arrest and violence from their government.
We’ve previously told you how Iranian authorities raided Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani’s home and forcefully ripped him away from his family because he is a Christian. He was reportedly beaten and his son was tasered right in front of the rest of the family.
Pastor Youcef has been sentenced to ten years in Iran’s notorious Evin prison, a heinous remote facility sometimes referred to as a “torture factory”. No Christian should be forced to spend a single day in such an awful place for their faith. We will continue working diligently to obtain Pastor Youcef’s release until the day he is finally free and reunited with his family.
Our presentation to the UNHRC occurred just days after the Trump Administration announced the President’s landmark Executive Order on Advancing International Religious Freedom, which we told you detailed how the United States will make the enforcement of religious freedom an integral part of U.S. foreign policies and U.S. State Department programs.
We are hopeful President Trump’s order will be a clear sign to rest of the world that the United States is taking the oppression and persecution of Christians extremely seriously, and if they wish to deal with us, they must as well.
And it should serve as a notice to nations like Iran where such persecution is taking place, that it would be in their best interests to implement immediate changes to protect their Christian citizens, as well as other religious minorities.
Christians and other believers have the right as human beings to pray and worship freely, without fear of government harassment, imprisonment, and even death.
If Iran continues to allow the abuse of Christians and chooses not to enforce protections for all its people, regardless of faith, it must be held accountable on the world stage.
As we fight to free Pastor Youcef and demand protection for Iran’s Christians, we urgently need your support. Every gift – even $5 – makes an impact.
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