The Silent War: Persecution of Christians in Iran

In Iran, a shadow war ensnares those who choose to embrace Christianity, where apostasy is not merely a personal decision but a crime punishable by death. The Islamic Republic’s iron grip extends to every facet of life, enforcing draconian laws that mandate allegiance to Islam under the threat of persecution and death.

From the Islamic regime’s inception in 1979, politics and religion intertwine seamlessly, creating a toxic environment where dissent is swiftly crushed underfoot. The echoes of history reverberate through the ages, from the Battle of al-Qadisiyyah in 636 CE between the Rashidun Caliphate and the Sasanian Empire to the second Qadisiyyah in 1979 after Khomeini gained power. The regime’s suppression of dissent and imposition of religious orthodoxy mirror the autocratic rule of empires past.

Ayatollah Khorasani’s ominous decree echoes centuries of religious dogma, condemning any deviation from Islam as a threat to the state. He remarked, “The promotion of Christianity in Iran must be stopped,” reflecting the regime’s determination to eradicate religious pluralism and maintain strict control over religious discourse. The Quranic verses cited in the Penal Code serve as a grim reminder of the regime’s determination to root out apostasy at any cost.

Yet, amidst this darkness, a glimmer of hope emerges—the resilience of the Iranian people. A new generation, disillusioned with the regime’s oppressive ideology, dares to challenge the status quo. Through social media and underground networks, they defy the regime’s control, embracing alternative beliefs and advocating for change.

However, this struggle is not without its risks. The regime’s brutal crackdown on dissent extends to religious minorities, particularly Christians, who face persecution, harassment, and violence for their beliefs. Reports abound of Christians being arrested, imprisoned, and executed for their faith. In some cases, they are charged with vague offenses such as “acting against national security” or “spreading corruption on Earth,” which carry severe penalties, including death.

Harassment against Iranian Christians is on the rise, with a notable increase in arrests and detentions within the Islamic Republic. In addition to the regime’s brutal suppression of protests, Iranian Christians endure escalating persecution, marked by harassment, arrests, and imprisonment solely for their religious practices.

The regime’s tactics of intimidation extend beyond arrests and detentions to include surveillance, censorship, and infiltration of Christian communities. Informants are enlisted to monitor religious gatherings, report on suspected converts, and suppress any perceived threat to the regime’s authority.

Executions are carried out publicly, serving as a chilling reminder of the consequences of defying the regime’s authority. Christian converts are often subjected to torture, imprisonment, and forced confessions before facing execution. Their families are left devastated, often unable to mourn publicly for fear of reprisals from the regime.

The persecution of Christians in Iran is deeply rooted in the country’s complex political and religious landscape. Iran’s Islamic regime, founded on the principles of Shia Islam, views any challenge to its authority as a threat to its legitimacy and power. As a result, religious minorities, including Christians, are subjected to relentless persecution in a bid to maintain the regime’s grip on power.

The plight of Christians in Iran is further compounded by the regime’s use of state-sponsored propaganda and misinformation to demonize and vilify religious minorities. Evangelical Christianity and the underground “house-church” movement are often portrayed as threats to national security, justifying the regime’s crackdown on these communities. Such tactics not only serve to justify the persecution of Christians but also perpetuate a culture of fear and suspicion within Iranian society.

Despite Iran regime’s obligations under international law to uphold religious freedom and protect the rights of all its citizens, the regime continues to trample on these rights with impunity. Christians in Iran face constant threats, harassment, and discrimination simply for practicing their faith. The regime’s strict enforcement of Islamic Sharia law leaves little room for religious pluralism, and those who dare to dissent are met with swift and severe punishment.

In the face of such grave violations of human rights, the international community, and especially the United Nations and Western democracies, must not remain silent. It is incumbent upon the United Nations and Western democracies to speak out against the persecution of Christians in Iran and hold the regime accountable for its actions. Diplomatic pressure, economic sanctions, and targeted measures against key regime figures are essential steps towards ending the cycle of violence and oppression.

Moreover, civil society organizations, religious leaders, and ordinary citizens have a crucial role to play in raising awareness about the plight of persecuted Christians in Iran and advocating for their rights. Solidarity campaigns, petitions, and grassroots movements can help amplify their voices and put pressure on governments to take meaningful action.

The persecution of Christians in Iran is not just a religious issue but a human rights crisis that demands urgent attention and action. By standing together in solidarity with the persecuted Christians of Iran, we send a powerful message to the regime that the world is watching and that justice will prevail. Only through collective action and unwavering determination can we hope to bring about meaningful change and secure a brighter future for all Iranians, regardless of their faith. It is the responsibility of the United Nations and Western democracies to echo the voice of the voiceless and to uphold the principles of justice and human rights. Let us not be silent witnesses to the suffering of our fellow human beings, but instead, let us be agents of change, advocating for freedom, dignity, and justice for all.

About the Author
Shabnam Assadollahi is an award-winning Canadian human rights advocate and freelance writer/journalist of Iranian origin. She has a Master’s degree in Social Anthropology and has worked extensively helping newcomers and refugees resettle in Canada and has distinguished herself as a broadcaster, writer and public speaker. Shabnam was arrested and imprisoned at age 16 for eighteen months in Iran's most notorious prison, Evin. Shabnam’s primary and heartfelt interest is to focus on the Iranian community and world events affecting women and minority communities.