They Cry in Silence Jul/Aug 2009

Iran is an increasing concern for the Middle East and the world, and no one seems to have a workable plan for how to control it. Its radical Islamist leader, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has pledged to destroy Israel and bring down the Western democracies; and though his quest for nuclear weapons receives significant coverage, almost nothing is reported concerning the situation of the approximately 300,000 Christians remaining in the country.

The latest news on conditions there is not encouraging. There has been a new crackdown on Christians, reports Compass Direct News:

Declaring three Iranian Christians guilty of cooperating with “anti-government movements,” a court in Shiraz…ordered the converts [from Islam] to discontinue Christian activities and stop propagating their faith. An Islamic Revolutionary Court judge handed an eight-month suspended prison sentence with a five-year probation….The judge said he would enforce their prison sentence and try them as “apostates,” or those who leave Islam, if they violate terms of their probation—including a ban on contacting one another. A new penal code under consideration by the Iranian Parliament includes a bill that would require the death penalty for apostasy. “The warning that they will be ‘arrested and tried as apostates’ if they continue their Christian activities is quite chilling,” said a regional analyst who requested anonymity.

Dr. Richard Land, a commissioner with the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom, released the group’s annual report recently and said religious restrictions in Iran tightened during the past year and government action has worsened conditions for a variety of communities, including evangelical Christians and Jews.

A key reason for the upswing in anti-Christian activity is the growing number of Muslim conversions to Christianity. Reports International Christian Concern: “Last year alone, 50 Christians were arrested for practicing their faith, some of whom were tortured. There have also been reports that Christians died due to the torture they were forced to endure.”1

An especially regrettable case involves two women who were arrested for practicing Christianity. After Iranian security officials searched their apartment and took their personal effects, they were taken to the police station in handcuffs. They appeared before a Revolutionary Court and were sent to “the notorious Evin prison” and told they could make bail by posting the “staggering amount” of $400,000.2 Both women were allowed only a one-minute telephone call per day to their immediate families. They also are ill, one seriously. She told her family she was dying.

Compass Direct News also reported that in Tehran, a church was ordered to close because it offered a Farsi-language service that was attended by Iranian-Muslim converts to Christianity.

The Christian presence in Iran dates back to the earliest days of the church. And for 2,000 years, Iranian Christians lived in relative security there. After the radical Islamic revolution that brought Ayatollah Khomeini out of exile in France, the situation evolved into what it is today.

As we report consistently, the situation is not restricted to Iran. In every country radical Islamists control, Christians suffer the same abuse. And it is going from bad to worse, particularly where repressive Muslim Sharia law is central to the judicial system.

The message for you and me is to intensify our prayers for the Christians of Iran.

ENDNOTES
  1. “In Iran, ‘crackdown’ on Christians worsens,” April 26, 2009 <iranpresswatch.org/2009/04/crackdown-christians>.
  2. Ibid.

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