Iranian Christians Persecuted for Practicing Their ReligionPublished by Ali on January 20, 2020
International Liberty Association: According to the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom, Iran has nearly 300,000 Christians, including adherents of apostolic Churches—Latin Catholic, Armenian and Assyrian/Chaldean—and newer Protestant and evangelical churches. The Catholic hierarchy consists of one Latin archdiocese—Ispahan—which has been vacant since the 2015 retirement of Archbishop Ignazio Bedini. There are also several Eastern Church eparchies: four Chaldean and one Armenian.
Five of the parliament’s 290 seats are reserved for Christians and other minorities: two for Armenian Christians and one each for Assyrian/Chaldean Christians, Jews, and Zoroastrians.
Iran government monitors members of the historical Churches and imposes legal restrictions on constructing and renovating houses of worship.
ILA: It should be mentioned that for many times it has been reported that, “Christians have been sentenced to prison terms for holding private Christmas gatherings, organizing and conducting house churches, and travelling abroad to attend Christian seminars”
Evangelical Christian communities face repression because many conduct services in Persian and proselytize to those outside their community. Pastors of house churches are often charged with national security-related crimes and apostasy.
Converts to Christianity also face persecution. “Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani, a prisoner of conscience, is a convert from Islam to Christianity who leads the Evangelical Church of Iran and has been arrested several times. In 2017, Judge [Mashallah] Ahmadzadeh sentenced Nadarkhani to 10 years in prison and two years in internal exile for ‘promoting Zionist Christianity.’ After several failed appeals, he was rearrested in July 2018 by plainclothes agents, beaten, and taken to a quarantine ward in Evin Prison.
Also, Iran revolutionary court judges [Mashallah] Ahmadzadeh and Ahmad Zargar affirmed sentences leveled in 2017 against Saheb Fadaie and Fatemeh Bakhteri on the charge of ‘spreading propaganda against the regime.
Iran has specifically targeted the family of Assyrian Christian pastor Victor Bet-Tamraz on spurious charges of acting against national security. In 2017, Bet-Tamraz was sentenced to 10 years in prison and continues to appeal the sentence. In January 2018, Judge Mashallah Ahmadzadeh of the Branch 26 Tehran Revolutionary Court sentenced Bet-Tamraz’s wife, Shamiram Isavi, to five years in prison on national security charges. In July 2018, the judge sentenced their son, Ramil, to four months in prison, also for ‘acting against national security.