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Focus on Iran

Population: 80 million Majority Religion: Islam (99%) Christian population: At least 385,000 Persecution Category: Severe In 2013 the self-proclaimed moderate Hassan Rouhani was elected president of Iran, but apart from the release of a few political prisoners, there has been no significant improvement in human rights or religious freedom. He is subject to Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, known for his conservative views. Iran is the home of Shia Islam, which touches the emotions and emphasises self-denial and martyrdom. It is the state religion, followed by about 89% of Iranians (10% follow Sunni Islam, the majority form of Islam worldwide). Religious freedom is constitutionally guaranteed, and the historic churches (Armenian, Assyrian and Chaldean Orthodox) enjoy relative freedom. However, minority religions that are not recognised by the constitution are severely restricted and members often face harassment, arrest and torture. This applies especially to the Baha’i, Sufi Muslims and Christians from a Muslim background.

• NEW TESTAMENTS The government is very concerned by the huge growth of the house church movement, viewing In great demand house churches as a threat to Islam because their members are mainly former Muslims. When Photo: Elam Ministries a house church is discovered, the leaders are often arrested and tortured in an effort to track down all members. Most Christian activity is illegal, including evangelism, Bible training and publishing Christian books. Nevertheless, over 1 million New Testaments have been distributed by Iranian Christians in recent years. In prison, Christians suffer harsh conditions and are often beaten in an effort to make them recant their faith. In recent years, more than 300 Christians have been arrested and imprisoned arbitrarily – over 40 received significant prison sentences. Church in Chains in Action

Church in Chains is in regular contact with the Iranian Embassy in Dublin on religious freedom issues and campaigned extensively for Youcef Nadarkhani, a Christian sentenced to death in 2010, who was eventually released in September 2012. Church in Chains has channelled aid to the families of persecuted Christians and has supplied literature and resources to Christians in Iran.

Middle East


Church in Chains Global Guide  

The Church in Chains Global Guide lists 60 countries where Christians face persecution because of their faith. The Global Guide divides the...