Iranian Christians are being subjected to perpetual confrontations with the authorities, who persecute them for practicing their faith, or even for carrying out religious rituals in public.
According to a report by Share America, a US Department of State’s platform, on Thursday May 23rd, the Christian community has witnessed a noticeable uptake in arrests, marking a major rise during 2018, in which more than 100 Christians were detained for attending Christmas gatherings with their peers inside their homes.
The data is released by the 2019 Annual Report of the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom, an independent and bipartisan government body that advises the US president, Congress and the secretary of state.
And close to 300 members of the Sufi (Muslim mystic) community were arrested over participating in anti-government protests in Tehran last February, over the country’s worsening economic situation. One protester was executed shortly afterward, the report stated. “The Iranian government [was] heightening its systematic targeting of Muslims (particularly Sunni Muslims and Sufis), Baha’is and Christians.”
During the past four decades more than 90 % of Iran’s population are made up of Shia Muslims. And religious minorities in Iran have experienced a continuous crackdown under Tehran’s regime, as an austere, extremist governance is operated, specially against religious minorities.
“Sadly, this year shows no progress in Iran at all,” Gary Bauer, an official on the commission, told the Voice of America upon release of the report on April 20th. Iran “continues to persecute various religious minorities, including Muslim minorities that don’t agree with its Shiite regime.”
The commission’s report gathered together a number of incidents that demonstrated Tehran’s persecution against religious minorities. Iran’s revolutionary courts condemned a group of 208 Sufis to prison and floggings during August 2018. “In some cases, trials for these individuals lasted no longer than 15 minutes,” the report says.
More than 70 Baha’is remained in prison at the end of 2018, and at least 60 others were denied entrance to Iranian universities because of their faith.
At least 171 Christians were arrested in 2018, compared to 16 the year before. Attending Christian religious seminars abroad, or holding church services at home, are among the activities that have landed Christians in an Iranian prison.
Iran runs propaganda against anti-Semitism. “ But members of the Jewish community have been targeted regularly,” the report stated.