Home » ‘Simply being a Christian is enough to get you arrested’ in Iran: British government report

‘Simply being a Christian is enough to get you arrested’ in Iran: British government report

by Mahmmod Shar

Iranian Christians number between 500,000 and 800,000 in a country of 86.7 million

By Benjamin Weinthal

The violent persecution of the Christian minority population in the Islamic Republic of Iran is still going on, according to a shocking new report from the British government.

In the Muslim-majority nation, “just being a Christian is enough to get you arrested,” according to a study conducted by the United Kingdom on Christians and Christian converts in Iran. Many arrests reportedly occurred during police raids on religious gatherings, according to the report, and Christians—particularly evangelicals and Muslims who converted—continued to face disproportionately high rates of arrest and detention.

A study detailing the severe mistreatment of Iranian Christians, who are expected to make up between 500,000 and 800,000 of the country’s total population of 86.7 million by 2022, was published by the United Kingdom late last month. According to other estimates, there may be more than 1 million Christians in Iran, the study noted.

According to the report, Twelver Ja’afari Shia Islam is recognized as the official religion of Iran, with 99.6% of the country’s population identifying as Muslims.

A Farsi translation of The Bible. Iranian Christians continue to face persecution from the Iranian regime. (Photo courtesy: Article 18.) ((Photo courtesy: Article 18.))

When asked what the U.S. and other world powers can do regarding the crackdown on Iranian Christians, Mansour Borji, an Iranian Christian who is the director of the religious freedom NGO Article 18, wrote in an email to Fox News Digital: “We believe the world leaders can play a positive role in helping the persecuted faith communities and end the religious apartheid in Iran. One of the effective measures that Western governments can take to help is sanctions targeting Iranian oligarchs and their families that are close to the regime, living abroad, by blocking their assets, imposing travel bans against them.”


Borji, who converted from Islam to Christianity, added, “Many of them have played significant roles in formation and implementation of discriminatory and oppressive policies of the current Islamic regime. They can also impose Magnitsky sanctions against those involved in human rights abuses.”

In 2016, the U.S. implemented legislation called “The Magnistsky Sanctions,” named after the late Russian anti-corruption whistleblower Sergei Magnitsky, to punish human rights abusers.

When asked about the British government’s report and what can be done to stop the persecution of Iranian Christians, a U.S. State Department spokesperson told Fox News Digital, “We persistently call for action against Iran’s human rights abuses in the United Nations and other multilateral fora. We also coordinate closely with Allies and partners, including the UK, to share information on potential sanctions targets. The State Department regularly announces sanctions perpetrators of these violations and urges like-minded partners to hold perpetrators of violations accountable. However, as a practice, we do not announce these actions in advance.”

According to the U.S. State Department spokesperson, “Since 1999, the United States has designated Iran annually as a Country of Particular Concern for engaging in or tolerating ‘particularly severe violations of religious freedom.’ The designation is based on information from all relevant sources, including the annual International Religious Freedom Report.”

However, critics of the Biden administration argue that the White House is prioritizing a nuclear deal with the Islamic Republic, over human rights, and that it will enrich the coffers of a totalitarian regime in Tehran.

According to the Foundation for Defense of Democracies Iran expert, Saeed Ghasseminejad, “The new nuclear deal would allow Tehran to access up to $275 billion in financial benefits during its first year in effect and $1 trillion by 2030.”

Veteran critics of the Islamic Republic say the sanctions relief money will strengthen the clerical regime’s domestic and foreign repression apparatuses. Both Republican and Democratic administrations have classified the Islamic Republic of Iran as the world’s worst state-sponsor of terrorism.

The September British study was released during the outbreak of widespread protests against the existence of the Islamic Republic due to the death of the 22-year-old woman Mahsa Amini. Iran’s morality police allegedly murdered Amini for failing to properly cover her hair with a hijab.

The grave of Mahsa Amini in her hometown of Saqqez, Iran. Photo obtained by Fox News Digital. (Fox News Digital)

There are numerous instances of the Islamic Republic currently working to undermine Christianity. Two Iranian Christians were detained in Tehran’s notorious Evin prison, according to a report from Middle East Concern (MEC), an organization that defends the right of Christians to practice their religion freely in the Middle East and North Africa.

According to MEC, Homayoun Zhaveh and his wife Sara Ahmadi were imprisoned in the past for upholding their Christian faith and were arrested on August 13 as well. Zhaveh served a month in prison in 2019 while Sara was incarcerated for 67 days, during which time “she underwent extreme psychological pressure,” according to MEC. According to MEC, Sara was given an 11-year prison term in 2020 “for her alleged role in leading a house church” and Zhaveh received a two-year sentence “for membership in a house church.”

Press inquiries were sent by Fox News Digital to the Permanent Mission to the United Nations and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Iranians protest a 22-year-old woman Mahsa Amini’s death after she was detained by the morality police, in Tehran, Sept. 20, 2022, in this photo taken by an individual not employed by the Associated Press and obtained by the AP outside Iran. Iran’s atomic energy agency alleged on Sunday, Oct. 23, 2022, that hackers acting on behalf of an unidentified foreign country broke into a subsidiary’s network and had free access to its email system. Sunday’s hack comes as Iran continues to face nationwide unrest first sparked by the Sept. 16 death of Amini.  (AP Photo/Middle East Images, File)

On Friday, the Iranian pastor Hekmat Salimi, his wife Shirini and their daughter Sama departed Turkey to secure asylum in the United States. According to a statement from the Anglican Office for Government & International Affairs, “An Anglican minister who fled Iran six years ago because of constant harassment by intelligence agents and multiple arrests has been granted his freedom as the US approves an emergency request to relocate the family from Turkey, where they have been living in hiding.”


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