Iran Engages Brutal Campaign To Round Up All Christians In Country

 March 3, 2024

A comprehensive report by Article 18 reveals the dangerous reality for Iranian Christians, contrasting sharply with Iran's façade of religious freedom.

Iran officially professes to permit the practice of Christianity, yet the reality on the ground tells a different story. Despite their harrowing circumstances, The Christian population in Iran is growing, mainly due to an underground movement led by women.

According to the report from Article 18, the Islamic Republic's authorities have levied punishments such as whippings and arrests, alongside sustained harassment towards Christians. In 2023 alone, at least 17 believers faced judicial sentences or alternative forms of punishment, with a total of 166 Christians arrested, marking a concerning uptick from the 134 arrests recorded in 2022.

Rev. Johnnie Moore has leveled criticism at the U.S. Department of State's dealings with Iran, accentuating the existential risk faced by Iranians, particularly women and Christians, due to the government's policies.

"The Department of State’s insane policy toward the Islamic Republic...," points out Rev. Moore, drawing attention to the broader implications of U.S. foreign policy on the persecuted groups within Iran.

A Growing Underground Movement Challenges the Islamic Regime

Sheina Vojoudi, an advocate for Iranian Christians, elucidates the dire situation facing this minority group since the Islamic Regime's takeover. The regime, according to Vojoudi, has only intensified its crackdown on Christians in an attempt to quash any opposition that threatens its stability.

Iran is witnessing a notable surge in individuals converting to Christianity, underscoring a clandestine yet palpable shift within its society. Led predominantly by women, this silent revolution takes place away from official churches, within the confines of private homes, and through discreet gatherings emblematic of the house church movement.

This movement not only signifies the resilience of Iranian Christians but also underscores a profound challenge to the existing religious and societal norms enforced by the Islamic regime.

The arrests and systematic persecution of Christians, including both Protestants and Catholics, often involve threats to the families of the accused and employ physical violence against detainees. Ali Kazemian, a Christian detainee, shared a harrowing account of threats made by security forces, emphasizing the regime's use of intimidation and violence to suppress religious minorities.

International Community Urged to Act Against Iran's Human Rights Infractions

The Article 18 report, supported by various NGOs, serves as a powerful appeal to the international community to acknowledge and act against the extensive persecution of Christians in Iran. It reveals numerous human rights violations, including the endangerment of individuals who convert from Islam to Christianity, facing the extreme risk of execution for apostasy, and the illegal status of owning a Persian Bible or engaging in preaching in Persian.

A surprising finding from a 2020 survey indicates that around 800,000 Christians live in Iran despite the constant risk of persecution. This number contradicts the government's portrayal and unveils a significant Christian demographic that remains officially unrecognized.

With converts constituting the largest – albeit unrecognized – Christian community in Iran, the issue of ‘apostasy’ is a central concern… a Christian convert was sentenced to be hanged for apostasy in 2010, the charge of apostasy and death sentence were overturned in response to international pressure, but many converts have since been threatened with a similar fate upon arrest and during interrogations.

This testimony from the Article 18 report sheds light on the precarious position of Christian converts in Iran, many of whom lead the underground movement, defying the state's attempt to curtail their freedom of belief and expression.

Concluding Thoughts on Women Spearheading Underground Church Growth Amid Iran's Crackdown

The persistent and egregious violations of human rights against Christians in Iran, as detailed in the Article 18 report, are a stark contradiction to Iran's public claims of religious tolerance.

Despite the regime's attempts to quell the growth of Christianity, the faith continues to spread, mainly due to the courage and resilience of its followers, particularly women who have taken a leading role in nurturing the underground church movement.

The international community, spurred by the alarming evidence presented by human rights organizations, faces mounting pressure to address Iran's systemic persecution of Christians and other religious minorities.

About Victor Winston

Victor is a freelance writer and researcher who focuses on national politics, geopolitics, and economics.

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