During this holiday season, please don’t forget Iran’s Christian community

The regime in Iran is known for its gross human rights violations, including a fierce crackdown on Christians that goes unabated as we speak, according to human rights monitoring organizations.

The International Christian Concern (ICC) reported on Wednesday, December 11, citing Iran’s state media saying regime authorities arrested an unnamed Christian near the country’s border with Azerbaijan.

The ICC wrote that “very little information about the arrested individual is shared. However, the report does cite some of the so-called justifications of arrest including [its attempts to] ‘publicize evangelical Christianity,’ ‘establish house churches’ and ‘destroy Abrahamic religions [by] disturbing public opinion in the public and virtual spheres.’ A number of items related to this individual were confiscated.”

It is a known fact that the regime in Iran has a long history of imposing harsh crackdown on the minority Christian community.

Last year the regime arrested more than 100 Christians in December, charities reported, amid a growing crackdown by the Islamic Republic. Many of the 114 detained were converts to Christianity from a Muslim background, accused of “proselytizing.”

In Iran, conversion to Christianity can be a crime meriting a sentence of more than 10 years imprisonment. Christian advocacy groups have in the past reported a growing underground evangelical movement in Iran, where they say increasing numbers of people who have become curious about the minority religion are arrested.

While Christianity is officially tolerated in Iran, reports indicate the regime’s so-called courts benefit themselves of several criminal provisions to persecute Christians, including “propagating against the Islamic Republic in favor of Christianity” and “orienting toward the land of Christianity,” or more ominously, “enmity against God” and “insulting the Prophet,” crimes that can even carry the death sentence.

Christian leaders in Iran constantly say pressure on Christians increases every year around Christmas. 2018 and 2019 have proven to be particularly severe.

In August 2018, Fox News reported the plight of Iran’s persecuted Christian community has significantly worsened over the past few weeks, with the mullahs’ regime ramping up prison terms and other judicial actions.

In the same month, Amnesty International called on Iran to immediately release four Iranian Christians, including pastor Victor Bet-Tamraz and his wife Shamiram Issavi.

statement from Amnesty International said: “They have been targeted solely for peacefully practicing their Christian faith.”

Amnesty and Human Rights Watch blasted the mullahs’ regime for its sweeping violent crackdown targeting Christians and Dervishes, including imposing lengthy prison terms on the members of the religious minority groups, according to August 2018 reports.

“… a large number of those who have converted to Christianity were arrested in Fars, Isfahan and Azerbaijan provinces. On August 1, 2013, in an assault on a home-church in Isfahan, a number of the participants were apprehended,” according to a 2013 report posted by the Iranian opposition coalition National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI).

In March 2017, a report shed light on even small cases gaining the attention of Iran’s ruthless Revolutionary Guards (IRGC). “The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps late last month arrested two Iranian Catholics in northwestern Iran and seized their Bibles and prayer books,” according to a Wall Street Journal report.

In 2014, three Christian pastors were charged with “acting against state security and organizing the overthrow of the regime.” They were accused of “acting against the state security and organizing the overthrow of the regime’ which if proved is punishable by death.”

Way back in 1994, Reverend Dibaj, Bishop Haik Hovsepian Mehr and Bishop Tateos Michaelian were brutally murdered by the regime’s Ministry of Intelligence and Security agents. This dreadful act came after the murder of Bishop Tateos Michaelian, whose body was found two days prior to that.

These news reports began opening the eyes of all observers across the globe to the viciousness of the mullahs’ regime in regard to members of religious minority communities inside Iran.

During this holiday season, our prayers should also include those who are detained and under torture in Iran for their religious beliefs, from Christians to Baha’is, Sufis (Gonabadi Dervishes) and Sunnis, and Shia Muslims, as the mullahs’ regime in Iran cannot tolerate anyone who is not aligned with them.

All the while, the November uprising in Iran provide assurance that the Iranian people are determined to rid this wonderful country of the evil mullahs’ rule.