Boinkie's Blog


Monday, June 09, 2008

Persecution of Christian converts in Iran

Unlike Saudi Arabia, where there are no Christian churches, Iran has allowed Zorastrian and Christians to worship with limitations.
(albeit the Bahai are persecuted violently).

Yet a couple months ago, there were rumors of Christian conversions in Iran, partly because of the increase of "religious police" going against those merely having fun. One podcast had James Dunnigan of Strategy page remarking that Iran, prior to Islam, was not Christian (as was Iraq and Syria) but Zorastrian, and Islam there still includes a lot of Zorastrian customs and festivals. He quipped that many people, in disgust at the fundamentalist crackdown, might just revert to Zorastrianism too.

So today's StrategyPage has this note:

June 1, 2008: Despite keeping a low profile, the growing number of Christian converts are being hunted down and arrested. The religious police try to persuade the converts to return to the Islamic fold, reminding them that apostasy (converting from Islam to another religion) is forbidden by the Koran and punishable by death. However, the Iranian constitution allows apostasy, so the government shows some restraint. But since the Islamic clerics took control of the government three decades ago, several hundred non-Moslems have been executed, and thousands more imprisoned or harassed. Most Iranians are willing to tolerate other religions (and there are over a dozen such minorities in Iran, including several that pre-date Islam, and one that was developed in the 19th century.)


  • Most or all religious minorities in Iran have a hard time - and not just religious minorities. In fact, not just minorities. I went to a talk by Shirin Ebadi, the Nobel Prize winning Iranian lawyer, on Friday. One of the things she works on (at great risk to her own life and security) is women's human rights in Iran.

    As far as the Baha'is are concerned, the national leadership of the Baha'is were arrested on 14 May and are being held incommunicado, young Baha'is are thrown out of university, it is very difficult for Baha'is to get work, Baha'i cemeteries are regularly razed, Baha'i homes are confiscated or destroyed. And this is just the tip of a rather nasty iceberg.

    The Baha'i Faith, being post Islamic, is not recognized as a genuine religion in the Iranian constitution and Baha'is are "unprotected infidels" - not a good place to be. And yet, they are the largest non-Muslim religious minority in Iran,

    I should say that I am a British Baha'i; I work for the UK Baha'i community, and an important part of my service is the defence of the human rights of the Baha'is in Iran.

    By Anonymous Barney, at 3:24 PM  

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