The Religious Persecution of in Iran

Religious Freedom in Iran Virtually Non-Existent for Christians, WEA Reports

WEA: ''Religious freedom in Iran continues to be virtually non-existent for Christians and other minority groups.''

Sunday, Apr. 10, 2005 Posted: 1:45:58AM EST


Religious freedom in Iran continues to be virtually non-existent for Christians and other minority groups, according to a global network representing more than 335 million Christians from 121 nations and over 100 international organizations.

In a recent document on international religious freedom presented to the UN Commission on Human Rights, the World Evangelical Alliance (WEA) reported that while the Iranian Constitution guarantees a few recognized religious minorities – including Christians – the freedom to practice their religion, these rights are frequently withheld.

The WEA, which recently participated in the work of the 61st UN Commission on Human Rights, stated in its report titled “A Perspective On Global Religious Freedom: Challenges Facing The Christian Community” that numerous accounts come out of Iran describing Christians facing harassment, intimidation and imprisonment because of their religious beliefs.

“The violation of religious freedom specifically contradicts Iran 's international obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights,” the WEA stated in its report.

“Non-Islamic minorities live in constant fear of arbitrary abuse or arrest; many are even afraid to emerge from their homes. Authorities are known to confiscate property, drive families from their homes and farmlands, and deny harvesting rights to farmers. Non-Muslim women who violate Islamic laws or customs are subject to monetary fines, harassment, and even flogging or death. Non-Islamic holy sites and places of worship, as well as homes of non-Islamic minorities are commonly destroyed or occupied in attempts to restrain Christians from proselytizing. In some areas, non-Muslim business owners are required to indicate their religious affiliation in their business entranceway.”

According to the WEA, members of evangelical Christian congregations have been required to carry membership cards, photocopies of which must be provided to the authorities. Apostasy in Iran , specifically conversion from Islam, is punishable by death as Islam is the nation’s official religion.

Recently, religious liberty intercessors have been following the plight of 47-year-old Hamid Pourmand, the Iranian army colonel and Protestant lay pastor, who was arrested in the Islamic Republic of Iran on Sept. 9, 2004.

Sources say Pourmand will be brought before the Sharia Court some time between Apr. 11 and 14, to face charges of apostasy from Islam and proselytizing Muslims, both of which are punishable by death.

“The threat of execution is very real as the Islamic Republic of Iran has previously martyred Christians,” stated the WEA Religious Liberty Commission in its Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin, released today.

According to the WEA, video footage offers documentation of some of the forms of torture that the Iranian government inflicts on its own citizens.

“This documentation includes footage of a fully conscious prisoner hearing his sentence read aloud and then having his eyes torn from their sockets by an official,” the WEA reported.

The global ministry said that stoning also continued to be a relatively common state-sanctioned practice against non-Muslim religious minorities, especially in apostasy cases.

Kenneth Chan


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